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Opposition coalition promises to set up Special Fund for natural resources

A section of the APNU+AFC’s attendees at the coalition’s rally.

Just days after authorities announced that an American oil giant has found hydrocarbons offshore Guyana but was yet to determine if it was in commercial quantities, the leader of the opposition coalition, David Granger announced that if he wins next Monday’s general elections government would stash away some of the earnings from the natural resources sector for future generations.

“I am talking about putting the profits coming out of gold and diamonds, coming out of timber and coming out of petroleum and any other mineral discovered in this country but the profits will go into a Sovereign Wealth Fund to benefit future generations,” Granger told a mammoth gathering at a rally held  at the Square of the Revolution by A Partnership for National Unity+ Alliance For Change (APNU+ AFC).

Exxon-Mobil last week said it has found oil offshore in the Liza area of the Stabroek Block. That was later confirmed by the Ministry of Natural Resources.

The United States (US) has been sharing best practices with Guyana on how to best manage oil and natural gas revenues and so avoid corruption. Guyana is expected to sign on to the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) that sets globally accepted benchmarks for measuring corruption.

Granger said the Sovereign Wealth Fund, rather than bank accounts of the National Industrial Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL), would be used to store earning s gathered from oil and other natural resources. “I want to promise you tonight that APNU+AFC will introduce a special fund, a fund which the sticky hands of ministers cannot touch. It is called the Sovereign Wealth Fund…This is not NICIl I am talking about,” he said.

Granger said the monies deposited into the fund would be spent on priority areas like education.

APNU+AFC Prime Ministerial candidate, Moses Nagamootoo welcomed news of the potentially big oil find and promised that a coalition-led administration would manage oil revenues effectively. “Thank God that this disclosure is made on the eve of the elections so that your new government with clean hands can take control of the oil sector and we can use the revenue,” he said, adding that government has a poor track-record of handling big multimillion dollar projects and programmes.