According to Minister within the Ministry of Public Works, Deodat Indar, funds from Guyana’s growing Natural Resource Fund (NRF) could be used to tackle a number of public welfare issues as well as infrastructural challenges facing the nation.
Currently, some US$607 million sits in the NRF and with the controversial Natural Resource Fund Act now in place, the government is able to empty the fund entirely within the first year of its operation. However, according to the Act, the NRF funds will be used on “green economy’ projects and accessed in response to major natural disasters.
But according to Minister Indar, “our government has been clear that… oil and gas will be used – there are some infrastructural issues. Look at some of the infrastructure that we were left with. Look at some of the ports and the harbours, the roads, the bridges, look at them. A lot of them are dilapidated. Now, we are starting to build them.”
The Minister went on to say that, “we have health systems; we have educational systems that need help. It’s the poor people that have to go to the hospital. It’s the poor people that go to the public schools”
Minister Indar confirmed that investments are already being made into upgrading healthcare facilities to become modern, sustainable providers where the nation’s poorest citizens are able to access proper healthcare services.
Amid concerns that the NRF funds could be misappropriated, Minister Indar explained that despite the government being able to empty the coffers in the first year, the withdrawal rule moving forward will allow significant sums to be saved and be accrued, given expected ramp-ups in offshore oil production.
Minister Indar made these comments during a virtual interview with Globespan on Wednesday last (13 January 2022).