Georgetown, Ministry of Finance, January 7, 2022: Senior Minister in the Office of the President with Responsibility for Finance Dr. Ashni Singh today confirmed that no money will be withdrawn from the Natural Resource Fund (NRF) without Parliamentary approval. The Minister made this clarification on the sidelines of Budget 2022 meetings and preparation, a Budget that will soon be presented to the National Assembly, on a date that Minister Singh has stopped short of disclosing.
Minister Singh explained that though he signed the Commencement Order for the NRF on December 31 last which states: ‘I appoint the 1 st Day of January, 2022 as the date on which he Natural Resource Fund Act shall come into operation’ that he wished to make it clear that no monies can be withdrawn from the NRF unless there is Parliamentary approval.
“Not a cent CAN be withdrawn without prior parliamentary approval, not a cent HAS been withdrawn and not a cent WILL be withdrawn until approved by Parliament”, Dr. Singh said.
The new Natural Resource Fund Act was assented to on December 30, a day after its passage in the National Assembly. The Law brings legitimacy to the legal framework governing the Natural Resource Fund having replaced the illegitimate and cumbersome act passed by the previous caretaker administration. This Law now allows for substantial improvement in the management of the natural resource wealth of Guyana for the present and future benefit of all citizens. It contains enhanced clauses (replacing defective clauses in the old NRF 2019 Act) including a significant one which provides for the establishment of a Board of Directors that will be responsible for reviewing and approving the policies of the Fund and monitoring its performance thereby separating the management of the Fund from the Minister responsible for Finance. Another key amendment in the new legislation is that the Minister of Finance could face up to ten years imprisonment if he fails to disclose the receipt of any petroleum revenue received by Government in the Official Gazette within three months of receipt of such monies which highlights the seriousness of Government’s commitment to accountability and transparency.