October 16 ,2020
President Irfaan Ali has reaffirmed his government’s commitment to transparency and accountability in managing the economy while recognising the role of the private sector as a partner in development.
According to an Office of the President release yesterday, Ali made these pronouncements following his keynote address to the Forecast on Latin America and the Caribbean Conference, hosted by the Association of American Chambers of Commerce and Latin America and the Caribbean (AACCLA) earlier yesterday. He was at the time fielding questions on the measures taken by the administration to fortify institutions, including the Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF), and on the role of the private sector in the process.
The President reiterated his government’s commitment to strengthening institutions with the aim of managing all sectors of the economy with transparency and accountability.
“My Government is focused heavily on transparency and accountability. As you know, we have demonstrated this after the negotiations of the licence for the Payara. Not only did we make the agreement public, but we also made the environmental permit public, so nothing is done in secrecy. I’ve said before, there’ll be an arm’s length relationship with the politicians. We had international experts, leading those negotiations and discussions,” Ali stated.
He explained that the requisite technical personnel had already been recruited and are currently in training to manage the oil & gas sectors. In addition to that, he mentioned the impending establishment of the Petroleum Commission, which will be managed by highly trained technical personnel. “And of course the Sovereign Wealth Fund is important, in terms of not only the securing and safeguarding the funds but also establishing the conditions and the circumstances, through legislation, on which resources will be used,” he added.
The President stressed that the monies will remain untouched in Guyana’s Sovereign Wealth Fund until a series of reforms are enacted to strengthen the Government’s regulatory infrastructure for the oil and gas sector.
Ali also pointed out that the private sector has an equal stake and responsibility in how the economy is managed and is an important partner in development.
“Well, the private sector plays an important part in every aspect of the economy… They are an important stakeholder, and they too have to conduct themselves within the rules, within the guidelines and the laws. From that standpoint, the private sector has equal responsibility as government in terms of enhancing transparency and ensuring that things are done in an accountable manner.”
The President also committed to ensuring “openness and frankness” in dealing with governance issues.
“I think very important on the issue of accountability and transparency is openness and frankness. I have made it very clear that my government is not going to shy away from dealing with issues. We are very open and transparent we are going to provide answers, we are going to speak to the media. These are things that we are committed to,” the President affirmed.
The release also stated that as an emerging oil & gas nation, Guyana needs to build human and institutional capacity, craft critical policies and legal measures, and pursue strong support and coordination amongst a number of governmental and non-governmental agencies.
In keeping with its manifesto commitments, the Government has pledged to implement a number of measures to ensure accountable and transparent management of the country’s natural resources including, establishing an arm’s length Sovereign Wealth Fund insulated from political interference and upholding the Santiago Principles of transparency and accountability, and the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), the release added.