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NRF Secretariat to be established in 2023 – Chairman

Central Bank Governor, Dr Gobind Ganga (left) and NRF Board Chairman, Major General (Retired) Joe Singh as they exchange the operational agreement in January, while overseen by Finance Minister, Dr Ashni Singh

Since the principal Act was passed, the Natural Resource Fund (NRF) has gotten Investment and Public Accountability and Oversight Committees. It will also be getting a secretariat, likely in the second half of 2023.
This is according to Chairman of the NRF Board, Major General (retired) Joe Singh, who in the NRF’s inaugural report for 2022 expressed anticipation that with the establishment of the secretariat, the operational needs of the Board will be met.
“It is anticipated that a secretariat to administer the operational needs of the Board and the two committees will be established in 2023… priority was given to the drafting of an operational agreement with the Bank of Guyana (signed on January 18, 2023) and an investment mandate,” he explained.
Despite the absence of the secretariat, however, Major Singh also assured that the NRF has been functioning in an efficient manner and has maintained contact and a healthy exchange of information with all relevant parties.
“The Board, through the Chairman, has been maintaining contact and exchanging information on a regular basis with the investment committee and the Public Accountability and Oversight Committee through their respective Chairs and with the Hon. Minister of Finance,” the Chairman said in the report.
“Monthly and Quarterly Reports on the performance of the fund received from the Bank of Guyana have been perused by the Board and shared with the two committees of the fund. These reports and the performance of the fund are publicised within the prescribed timelines on the Ministry of Finance’s website and in the public media in compliance with the Act.”
The NRF Fund Board consists of five members, while the Public Accountability and Oversight Committee (PAOC) is comprised of nine members, and the Investment Committee, seven members.
Since passage of the NRF Act in 2021, Government has gone on to establish the Natural Resource Fund Board. Following parliamentary approval, the Government has made several withdrawals from the fund, amounting to tens of billions of dollars, which were transferred to the Consolidated Fund to finance national development priorities.
This year’s $781.9 billion budget was financed for the first time by both oil and climate funds. Prior to the date for the budget even being announced, it had been revealed earlier this month that a total of US$1 billion (G$200 billion) would be made available from the NRF for use in the Budget.
Last year’s Budget was the first time Guyana had used oil funds to finance a national budget. In fact, the Government made three withdrawals from the fund last year to finance Guyana’s national development plans. These withdrawals amounted to US$607.6 million (G$126 billion) overall.
The funds from the NRF have their origins in the Stabroek Block – Guyana’s only block currently producing oil. The block is 6.6 million acres (26,800 square kilometres). Exxon, through its local affiliate Esso Exploration and Production Guyana Ltd (EEPGL), is the operator and holds 45 per cent interest in the block. Hess Guyana Exploration Ltd holds 30 per cent interest and CNOOC Petroleum Guyana Limited, a wholly-owned subsidiary of CNOOC Limited, holds the remaining 25 per cent interest.
Section 3 (1) of the NRF Act 2021, Act No 19 of 2021, which was assented to by President Dr Irfaan Ali on December 30, 2021, establishes the NRF to manage the natural resource wealth of Guyana for the present and future benefit of the people in an effective and efficient manner and in accordance with the principles of good governance, transparency, accountability, and international best practices, including the Santiago Principles.
When it comes to the NRF Board, it is chaired by Retired Major General Singh. Other members of the Board are Guyana’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett; Private Sector Executive Ramesh Dookhoo; former People’s National Congress (PNC) parliamentarian Dunstan Barrow; and former Chancellor of the University of Guyana, Professor Compton Bourne. (G3)