Politicians should not manage Natural Resource Fund – Jagdeo

first_img…says NY Times reporter handled Govt with kid gloves…but knocked GuyanaThe negative picture painted by a recent New York Times article which zeroed in on the oil and gas sector was condemned by Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo, who said he agreed with the criticisms with regard to that specific issue for which the coalition Government spoke about in a press statement.But aside from that, Jagdeo said that the article did capture a few noticeable points on the failures of Government in the oil sector, but not enough. The OppositionOpposition Leader Bharrat JagdeoLeader cited part of the article which speaks to the lack of sufficient regulatory controls to avert corruption and the legislation being in limbo.“The legislation is in limbo. It was promised three years ago and until now, we don’t have it. It is an accurate portrayal of what is happening with the legislation. And what I have problems with in this article is that it was so benign to the Government. They should be praising this gentleman,” he asserted.Jagdeo said that the article failed to mention several of the other failures of the Government in this sector, particularly as it relates to the controversial re-negotiation of the oil contract, among others.“He did not deal with the fact that they hid the agreement for a year and a half, refused to release it on the basis that it had national security implications and then a false assertion that the (People’s Progressive Party) PPP prevented it from happening,” he explained.Another missed point was the Government’s attempt to hide the US$18 million signing bonus; the unclear management framework for the oil and gas sector, including a Sovereign Wealth Fund, Local Content Policy and the Petroleum Commission, was also not included in the article.“The article did not show the turmoil in the sector and the lack of direction by this Government. We are at a point in time where if we do not make the right decisions; oil will not benefit our people,” he said.But he slammed the article for the negative picture it painted of Guyana. “I believe that many journalists from the developed world come here to make us look like backwater countries, like we are on the precipice of civil war…when we have greater stability than the countries some of them they come from.”Jagdeo said Guyana and Guyanese were unfairly portrayed in the article to people abroad.Resource FundMeanwhile, in referring to some of the announcements made in a press statement issued by Government through the Finance Ministry on Sunday, Jagdeo said that he still did not agree with the model being proposed for the Natural Resource Fund, which could cater for a representative from the Opposition.“We don’t want politicians…we, ourselves, to manage this money. This fund has to be independently, technically managed … not by politicians again and stored at the central bank. We have a problem with that model. It departs radically from best practices, like Norway and the other countries,” he added.Government has said that legislation in relation to the Fund could be laid in Parliament before the end of the year as indicated in Budget 2018. It said that the proposed legislation addresses two main issues: stability of the economy and saving for future generations. Advice on this fund is being sought from the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the Commonwealth Secretariat.Further, Jagdeo also criticised the Government for peddling a political assessment of the oil and gas sector. “The real substantive matters are still not being addressed,” he said, while noting that Finance Minister Winston Jordan has been engaged in a lot of fluff talks with members of the public on this matter.Referring to Jordan’s recent comments, the Opposition Leader noted that while the Minister promised billboards to announce the inflow of oil monies, he recalled that it was he who denied that ExxonMobil paid a US$18 million signing bonus to Guyana for over a year and a half.“The truth was finally exposed after a document was leaked to the media…People will see through this game of the APNU+AFC. They talk about oil and gas, but it is not realistic what they are saying…they are painting a rosy picture: that oil will solve everything. This is not so,” he added.Jagdeo also rubbished Jordan’s statement which sought to create the impression that hotels and flights were filled and this was a direct indication that things would improve in the economy. “What about the economy that is falling apart?” he queried, while noting that 30,000 persons have lost jobs since the coalition took office.last_img

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