NSF must be properly managed

first_imgDear Editor,The Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Guyana (FITUG) has keenly been following the spirited debate regarding the suggestion that Guyanese households benefit from an unconditional cash transfer from monies accruing from commercial oil production.The Federation has noted several convincing arguments advanced for and against the idea, and a number persons have expressed their points of view. The robust debate surrounds the burgeoning oil and gas industry, and is the latest conversation regarding the significant wealth the Government has told us that our nation will supposedly garner from our patrimonial resources. Expectedly, many will point to the agreement inked with ExxonMobil and its partners and very well contend that the sums we should be receiving should be much higher. We agree with that view, and we also recognise that the oil and all our other resources belong to all Guyanese, and as a responsible organisation, we hold the view that our oil wealth — and in fact all our wealth – should be used in the most prudent manner, to ensure that our resources benefit our people now and in the future as well.We would like to believe that there is near national consensus regarding the need to carefully utilise our wealth, but, at the same time, the FITUG cannot fail to express its serious concern with the mechanisms being proposed to manage and safeguard the wealth that would accrue. The Government recently released a Green Paper which addressed the establishment and operation of a Natural Resource Fund (NSF) which would seek to save and expend our country’s earnings from the oil sector. From our point of view, there can be no argument for the establishment of an NSF as a vehicle to save our oil receipts and use such monies to develop our country. We are aware that several countries have gone this route, recognising that their resources have a finite life span, and therefore we need to cater for life after the utilisation of our black gold.The FITUG’s concern relates to the management of the NSF, which we understand from the Green Paper will be subsumed under the Ministry of Finance. While we accept that the State undoubtedly must have a role to play, at the same time, we cannot ignore the squander-mania attitude we have seen pervading now-a-days. The Green Paper presented speaks to withdrawals from the NSF influenced by budgetary demands and requirements, and this is where we are fearful that the monies may not be utilised in the best possible manner, especially recognising that utilisation of the funds can be approved by a simple majority.The Federation is of the strong view that the use of the fund’s resources should be guided by a well-articulated and carefully crafted development strategy which outlines the goals we as a country and people wish to attain. Such a strategy, which should involve the views of the Guyanese people, would have clear timelines and easily measureable objectives. Such an approach, we hold, will ensure that we get optimal returns from the monies we will earn. While we know the Government will, in all likelihood, point to its Green State Development Strategy (GSDS), we believe that document requires greater detail if it is to meet its stated objectives.If the Government is indeed serious about ensuring “…sustainable use of petroleum revenues…”, then we believe that it would be wise, at this time, for the Government to give serious consideration to the convening of a National Conversation regarding the use of such wealth, to ensure that future generations do not condemn us for not properly seizing this opportunity to consider, in a sober manner, the utilisation of our resources in the best possible manner.Sincerely,Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Guyana (FITUG)last_img

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