By Mikaila Prince
GEORGETOWN, Guyana, (DPI) – Minister of natural resources, Vickram Bharrat says the government is committed to prudent management and exploitation of its natural resources as it advances the development of its oil, gas and other industries while addressing the opening session of the Guyana Extractive Industry Transparency (GYEITW) Week on Monday.
During the virtual event, minister Bharrat reminded the audience that Guyana possesses a “sizeable portfolio” of natural resources. These include gold, bauxite, manganese, and more recently, oil and gas.
Oil’s entry into Guyana’s natural resources portfolio brings with it renewed hope for Guyana to finally realise its post-colonial goals and aspirations, he said. Notwithstanding this, minister Bharrat pointed out that the resource is a subject of “great scrutiny.”
Accordingly, he said, the government has initiated steps to ensure the new-found resource and others are exploited sustainably for the benefit of all Guyanese.
“Prudent and sustainable exploitation will be facilitated through good governance. Good governance will ensure that this Government’s vision is achieved. Proper stewardship in the management of our resources will guarantee that there is a tangible realisation of our vision,” he said.
Concerning transparency, the minister told participants that the government has committed to pursuing an active legislative agenda. This, he recalled, will implement oversight measures that will enhance transparency and accountability.
“We are in the process of procuring a legal firm to assist our legislative drafting efforts to overhaul our petroleum regulatory framework. Our overhauling of our petroleum laws will incorporate mechanisms that will bolster our transparency and accountability initiatives.”
Minister Bharrat has released reports on the gas-to-shore projects as well as the first and second Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI). The government has already drafted Terms of Reference (TORs) for an independent administrator to prepare Guyana’s third EITI report. It has also initiated capacity building and training in government agencies related to EITI. The minister indicated that those agencies are improving their technical capacity to better align data and information collection systems to satisfy EITI reporting processes.
“As a testimony to our unwavering commitment to transparency and accountability, government has vouched to not spend any revenue gained from our petroleum resources until our Natural Resources Fund is recalibrated in a way that guarantees the transparent management, in an arm’s length way, from political interference.
From the moment government commences spending of the petroleum revenues, Guyanese will be comforted in knowing that transparency is our guiding star.”
Minister Bharrat also said the government’s portal of Guyana supports local transparency. This portal is a comprehensive single-point access for finding and using government services. It will ultimately serve as the foundation for real-time mainstreaming of data published in the EITI reports.