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No spending of oil revenues yet; focus will be on closing socio-economic gap- President Ali

Last Updated on Wednesday, 28 April 2021, 16:54 by Denis Chabrol

President Irfaan Ali.

Guyana will not start spending its almost US$300 million in oil revenues on priority areas until the Petroleum Commission is established and the Sovereign Wealth Fund legislation is amended, President Irfaan Ali said Wednesday.

“We have a number of things that we have to do in terms of setting up the Petroleum Commission. We have to also look at the legislation for the Sovereign Wealth Fund. Those are things that we have to do but at this moment, we are not looking at the oil revenue to meet government expenditure,” he told a news conference.

Since oil production began in December 2019, Guyana has earned US$267,668,709, including US$21 million in royalties,  from 5,009,797 barrels of oil. The earnings have been deposited in Guyana’s Natural Resources Fund in the Federal Reserve Bank in New York, in keeping with the existing sovereign wealth fund law that had been passed by the then  David Granger-led administration.

Dr. Ali linked future details on using the oil revenues to government laying out a macro-development plan later this year.

He said priorities would include health, education, food security, housing, investment in an energy mix as part of an energy corridor involving Guyana, Suriname and Brazil; manufacturing, industrial development and national infrastructural development.  The President said the overall plan is to bridge the socio-economic gap among Guyanese. “In creating those opportunities, we have to ensure that there is equity and that there is no widening between those who have and those who don’t have of that gap. The resources have to be used to close that gap,” he said.

Among the chain-reaction plan is reducing the cost of energy for industrial development and manufacturing.