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Broader Petroleum Commission, reduced ministerial powers in Commission likely

Natural Resources Minister Raphael Trotman

More representatives of the political opposition and civil society are likely to be included in the Petroleum Commission’s Board and ministerial powers reduced, based on local and international advice, Minister of Natural Resources Raphael Trotman said Thursday.

Following inputs from the Commonwealth, International Monetary Fund and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), Trotman said the recommendations for the amendment of the Bill would be sent to Cabinet for approval.

He noted that in the absence of a Board in all statutory agencies like the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission and the Guyana Forestry Commission, the minister has overarching powers to make orders. However, in the case of the petroleum industry he said government would consider a number of suggestion for further devolution of ministerial powers.

“Because petroleum is seen both both as a national matter and , of course, could be a potentially divisive one…There is no desire of government to hold or to hog the resources and so anything that makes it a national asset and to make it treated as such, we are prepared to entertain,” Trotman told Demerara Waves Online News.

The draft legislation, which is currently before a bi-partisan select committee for further consideration before it goes back to the 65-seat National Assembly for approval, provides for one representative each from civil society or academia and the parliamentary opposition.

Moved by “objective” observations by commentator, Senior Counsel Ralph Ramkarran and recommendations from several international bodies, he said the number of political and civil society representatives might be increased to two or three. “That’s ultimately for Cabinet to a make decision on”.

The Minister said the Clerk of the National Assembly would decide whether the current Bill has to be withdrawn or amended to make the Commission’s Board “larger and more inclusive”.