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Aug 10, 2007

Barrow calls on G.O.B. to specify use of oil revenues

Story PictureOil has been a hot topic in the news ever since the natural resource was discovered in commercial quantities below the Spanish Lookout community. But these days the discussion centres on how the find will financially benefit the country. On Monday, members of the Finance and Economic Development House Committee will meet at the National Assembly in Belmopan to further consider the Petroleum Revenue Management Fund Bill. This afternoon, Leader of the Opposition Dean Barrow told us that while he is satisfied that the fund will be managed by an investment board and oversight committee, he wants guarantees that it won’t become a government grab tub.

Dean Barrow, Leader of Opposition
“Setting up the fund, the fact that initially all monies derived from the petroleum industry: government taxes, government concessions, everything will go initially into the fund, that’s fine, no quarrel. The way the fund will be operated from what I can see here, no quarrel. But what happens in terms of the earnings that are going to be derived by the fund and how those earnings are used, that is where I think the quarrel is going to come in. Whereas I said we wanted to ensure that the earnings from the Petroleum Fund, from the Petroleum Trust Fund would only be used in a particular way, having to do with as I said, poverty alleviation and perhaps the areas of education and health.”

“We have not been provided with any audited accounts up to this point in time. We have not been told what the net earnings are from the industry; we have not been assured that government’s income tax take, which is on the net, is providing satisfactory revenue. That is that the concessionaire in the case of the oil fields that are producing, that the concessionaire hasn’t been able to say, well you know pretty much all our earnings are going on expenses and our actual profit is extremely minimal and therefore government’s forty percent take or whatever it is, is justifiably only so and so. Forty percent of nothing is nothing.”

The meeting on the Petroleum Revenue Management Bill is set to take place on Monday at two in the afternoon in the committee room of the National Assembly. According to release from the Clerk’s Office, any persons or interested bodies wishing to give their views and/or recommendations on the bill are invited to do so in writing or in person at the meeting.

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