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….Opposition claims this being done through borrowing
… US $436 million now in NRF
Guyana now has over US $436 million in its Natural Resource Fund (NRF) stemming from the completion of seven million-barrel lifts, royalties and interest.
Minister of Natural Resources, Vickram Bharrat made this announcement in the National Assembly on Monday noting that the PPP Administration is proud to have managed the country well without spending a cent from the sum. However, in a subsequent presentation, the Opposition called out the Government for exuberant borrowing which it said will eventually put a dent in Guyana’s NRF.
“Since taking office just a year ago, the People’s Progressive Party/Civic Administration has not spent a single dime or a single dollar from the Natural Resource Fund. We have not embarked on a squandermania of the oil revenue. We have not misused the oil revenue. We still have every single dollar from the direct proceeds of the oil and gas sector in the Natural Resource Fund which will be spent to ensure that every single Guyanese benefit,” Minister Bharrat said.
His remarks were met with verbal objection from the Opposition side of the House. When Opposition MP Shurwayne Holder rose to speak, he told the House that while the current administration seeks to take credit for not spending from the NRF, it was the former Administration that put restrictions to doing so without transparency.
“The reality is that they can’t spend the money from the oil revenue without the involvement of the Opposition. That is the reality, Mr. Speaker. It was the coalition that passed legislation to protect our national patrimony as it relates to oil and gas, so they can’t touch it Mr. Speaker. They can’t touch it without our involvement, without Parliamentary oversight and civil society and that’s the problem that they have,” he said.
Furthermore, he stated that while the Government may not have spent from the NRF directly, it has borrowed in such large amounts that the same will have to be repaid for in the future, likely from the oil revenues.
“Every lending agency overseas is ready to lend whatever amount of money to Guyana since we have oil and so they’re accessing these funds and spending it. They’re spending the money without touching it,” Holder said.
Earlier in the year, President Irfaan Ali stated that there will be no dipping into Guyana’s NRF until the regulations and legislation guiding the sector were strengthened.
Minister Bharrat said: “We will ensure that there is Parliamentary oversight of the sector, we will ensure that there is proper transparency and accountability in the sector and this is something that we intend to fulfil, hence not spending any monies from the Natural Resource Fund.”
The total sum stemming from Guyana’s seven lifts — apart from royalties and interest — is $388,777,840. The seventh lift was conducted on July 3, 2021, and marked Guyana’s highest volume of over $7M and highest payment of over $79M.