The Guyana government on Thursday announced that the US$18 million signing bonus from ExxonMobil would be placed in the Consolidated Fund before it is used to pay lawyers to fight the Venezuela border controversy case at the World Court.
“That bonus, wherever it is would be placed into the Consolidated Fund and it is from that fund that any team whatsoever will be paid whether they are working or worked before or work after,” Minister of State, Joseph Harmon told a post-cabinet news conference.
The signing bonus, he added, would be put into the fund when the Finance Minister, Winston Jordan decides that it is the right time to do so.
After substantial pressure from the political opposition, civil society and the Transparency Institute of Guyana, government eventually confirmed that the signing bonus was received and deposited into a special account at the Bank of Guyana. That had raised persistent questions about why the administration did not deposit the cash into the Consolidated Fund.
Harmon said when the money is placed in the Consolidated Fund, applications would be made to the National Assembly to approve withdrawals for paying the legal fees to the team headed by Sir Shridath Ramphal. “It’s not some private account that you go there and you draw down some money
The State Minister dismissed suggestions that government’s decision was as a result of court action by the opposition People’s Progressive Party. “No, no, no it’s not as a result of the PPP’s court action. It is just prudent fiscal management,” he said.