– Petroleum Commission Bill ready to be tabled The establishment of the Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF) is moving closer to realisation, as a draft framework is set to be tabled in the National Assembly when Parliamentarians resume sitting in early January.Natural Resources and the Environment Minister Raphael Trotman made the announcement on Thursday at the ministry’s yearend press briefing.Trotman said in an effort to ensure that the benefits from the Natural Resources Sector reach every Guyanese, Government is developing, with the assistance of the legal department of the Commonwealth Secretariat, a framework for the SWF in the new year. He said the framework is being finalised, and its draft is being delivered.The fund will help Government protect the economy from the volatile nature of natural resources revenue, help grow and modernise sustainable non-attractive sectors of the economy and further enhance capacity of the people. He said the draft framework for the fund will be presented to the National Assembly in January.The SWF, defined as pools of money derived from a country’s reserves, is set aside for investment purposes that will benefit the country’s economy and citizens. Funding for the SWF comes from Central Bank reserves that accumulate as a result of budget and trade surpluses, and from revenue generated from the exports of natural resources.Reacting to the United States oil company’s first announcement last year that there was oil in Guyana’s waters, President Granger had said he was elated and vowed that the disposal of any natural resource will go towards benefitting the people of Guyana.At his Press Conference on Thursday, Trotman related that the oil and gas company has already presented its development plan for 2017.Just two weeks ago, the oil company signed an agreement with a Dutch consortium for the construction of a floating and offloading facility, signalling that all parts are coming together for the commencement of production, slated to begin in 2020.Trotman noted that the Ministry also recently received the development plan from the Esso exploration limited that outlines their every step to oil production. He said the technically complex and critical document will be reviewed for approval by international experts approved by Government.Meanwhile, the minister said much emphasis will be placed on the capacity building as well as the creation of a Petroleum Regulatory Commission. The Petroleum Commission bill has been drafted and is ready to be tabled in the National Assembly, he informed.He said it has been shared with a wide range of stakeholders and civil society along with the parliamentary opposition.He said Guyana is being proactive in its approach to the emerging sector to ensure that all mechanisms necessary for the effective management and the best outcomes for its people are in place before the first barrel of oil is produced.According to Trotman, the Government with support from partners seeks to build the capacity of policy makers, officers, technicians, private sector professionals and all stakeholders on the issues and challenges surrounding this emerging sector.He said that Government recognises the need for a highly skilled workforce in this sector and as such, will be investing in building the capacity of professionals and technicians.Some of the external partners involved in the capacity building efforts are the oil companies, the Mexican Embassy, which is providing scholarship opportunities, the US Government, the Commonwealth and Chatham House.He said the ministry is also building its capacity as technical officers are given the opportunity to attend capacity building workshops, seminars, mentoring exchanges and conferences in Kenya, Uganda, Trinidad & Tobago, and the US.