Old Natural Resource Fund Bill illegitimate, new Bill provides more accountability, transparency – Pres. Ali

In defending his government’s decision to scrap the National Resource Fund Act it found when it entered office and replace it with one of its own, President Dr Irfaan Ali has made it clear that the new piece of legislation is more transparent and accountable.

The APNU+AFC parliamentary opposition, in particular, has been critical of the new piece of legislation which was recently laid in the National Assembly and which comes up for debate tomorrow.

In a video address today, however, President Ali explained why the new Bill is necessary.

“Why is there a need for a new Natural Resource Fund Bill? Why was it necessary for us to do this? Let me start by saying this was a campaign promise, it was a campaign promise that we were going to have an amendment of this Bill for a number of reasons. One, the old Bill is unconstitutional and illegitimate, we seem to forget that this Bill was passed by the parliament in January 2019 after the no-confidence motion had been approved so, the Bill has no legitimacy, so its unconstitutional. The second issue is that the Act was passed without any input or any involvement by the then parliamentary opposition,” the Head of State outlined.

The President noted that the then Opposition took a conscience decision to boycott the National Assembly because the former government had lost its mandate following the no-confidence vote.

In addition, President Ali noted that the old Bill had several worrisome flaws that had to be corrected.

“The Natural Resource Fund Act also had a number of fatal flaws in its content which we had to rectify before the Act could have been made operational. What are these fatal flaws that the Act had inside? The Governance structure, it was severely deficient with no governing body such as the Board of Directors, the Santiago Principles require a governing body, there was no governing body as is required by the Santiago Principles,” President Ali explained.

“The absence of a Board of Director in the old Act is compounded by the excessive power, rules and responsibilities that was vested in one individual, the Minister of Finance,” he added.

According to Ali, the new Bill drastically reduces the powers of the Minister of Finance, with the Board taking over much of these powers. This Board will include representatives of the private sector and parliament.

The President further spoke of some of the safeguards in the bill, including mandating the Finance Minister to publish all money entering the Fund, within three months.

President Ali also made it clear that the money will be spent on developing Guyana, something, he said, his government will not be deterred from doing.

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