Support Village Voice News With a Donation of Your Choice.
Unlike its affiliate, the Private Sector Commission (PSC) has given its full support to the proposed Natural Resources Bill despite a mountain of criticisms from credible civil society organizations.
The PSC has been dubbed the business arm of the ruling PPP/C, but Guyanese had held out some hope that it would have backed broader consultation on the bill and for it to be sent to a special select committee of the Parliament for fine-tuning. The Bill, which seeks to repeal the current law that caters for a 22-member oversight committee caters for a representative from the private sector to sit on the board of directors which will be appointed by the President.
In its statement the PSC said through its Subcommittee on Economic and Finance concluded its discussions on the proposed Natural Resource Fund legislation (NRF) and after examining its e merits and demerits has concluded that the Bill is good to go.
“We note the removal of the unbridled authority that was entrusted in the Minister of Finance in the Act of 2019, and the disaggregation of some of these responsibilities to other authorities and
oversight bodies,” the PSC said, repeating the same arguments put forward by the President and Vice President.
Additionally, the business umbrella body said the fact that all monies to be used from the Fund must be transferred to the Consolidated Fund will provide for parliamentary oversight on the spending of these resources which fosters greater accountability and transparency. These remarks were also made by President Irfaan Ali and Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo.
“The Sub-committee noted that the operationalization of the NRF will provide the much-needed
resources which Guyana needs at this critical juncture for its development of National
Infrastructure, Healthcare, Education and to mitigate the impending effects of Climate Change,” the PSC said, again repeating the arguments of the government.
“While the PSC believes that wider consultation should have been pursued for feedback and
finalization of the legislation, it is evident that the Bill in its current form subscribes in large part
to the Santiago Principles and thus we hereby support the passage of the legislation.
The PSC concludes that the Natural Resources Fund Legislation, when operationalized will
provide the resources that will serve as a major catalyst for Guyana’s national development in all
sectors leading to unparalleled economic growth,” the PSC statement concluded.
Earlier in the day we reported the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) saying that citizens need more time to study the proposed Natural Resources Bill, although offering the same unconditional support for the bill. In its statement the City-based umbrella body said it is pleased with the amended Natural Resources Fund (NRF) Bill’s general adherence with the international benchmark for Sovereign Wealth Funds, commonly referred to as the ‘Santiago Principles.’ “Given the paramount importance of this Bill, and its use as a tool for intergenerational wealth transfer of the citizens of Guyana, the GCCI is of the belief that more time should be provided to the public for its input and general commentary on the Bill.” The GGCI says it views the Bill as being an instrument of exceptional importance in the development landscape of Guyana – for current and future generations. “As such, it has been carefully following the developments associated with, and analyzing in detail, the Bill since its release to the public on December 15, 2021.” The GCCI said it will be communicating its views on the bill to Minister of Finance Dr Ashni Singh. The GCCI is the latest organisation to have criticised rhe bill and urged that more time be given for broader consultations on it. The Irfaan Ali Administration however seems reluctant to heed the advice.