Finance Minister, Winston Jordan says the US$10M purportedly paid by Canadian oil company, CGX Energy, to lawyers for the state in the maritime boundary dispute between Guyana and Suriname, under the PPP/C administration, should have been recorded in the public accounts.
Speaking with the Department of Public Information (DPI) yesterday, Jordan said that this money should have been reflected under foreign inflows and current expenditure, when it was expended as payment to the lawyers, which is recorded as payment for consultancy services.
His statement comes as the current government is under pressure over the acceptance of a US$18m signing bonus from ExxonMobil which is intended to pay fees for legal matters surrounding the Guyana-Venezuela border controversy.
Jordan told DPI yesterday that if Guyana had not received this money from the Canadian Company, it would have had to be deducted from public funds, therefore the money should have been placed into the Consolidated Fund, as a matter of public accounting procedure.
Whether CGX Energy had a vested interest in settling the maritime dispute or not, the Finance Minister is maintaining that it was on behalf of the Government, hence, the monies should have been placed in the public purse.
He noted that in comparison to what was done under this Government, the US$18M signing bonus received from ExxonMobil is in a special account at the Bank of Guyana, since it is allocated for a special purpose.
“Whenever that special purpose is activated, the monies will first go into the Consolidated Fund. We will come to the parliament for a supplementary budget to pay whomever we have to pay…by way of consultancy services,” the Minister stated.
When the money is transferred to the Consolidated Fund, Jordan said the foreign currency will be sold to the Bank of Guyana, immediately increasing the bank’s reserves, after which the bank will credit the Consolidated Fund with the equivalent in Guyana Dollars.
Jordan told DPI that the process for the expending of the US$18M signing bonus will be a transparent and accountable one, unlike what obtained under the previous administration with the US$10M received from CGX Energy.
He argued that Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo cannot equate what was done under his regime with what this Government is doing, since the public accounting process was not followed in the first instance.
Jordan has come in for criticism for not admitting that there was a signing bonus from ExxonMobil.