LEGAL proceedings are expected against Kaieteur News if the newspaper fails to retract an inaccurate and misconceived statement published under the caption, “After Withdrawing $126B ‘illegally’ from oil fund… Govt. now tables motion seeking Parliamentary approval to cover tracks”.
The news item was published on Monday February 7, 2022 and was carried on pages 14 and 16 of the newspapers.
According to a letter seen by this publication, the article was intended to convey the clear and distinct impression that the Government of Guyana has acted illegally, unlawfully, corruptly, and is now clandestinely taking steps to seek coverage for these alleged illegal, unlawful and corrupt actions.
The letter noted that the aforesaid publication is not only inaccurate and misconceived but contumaciously libelous and is intended to tarnish the good name and reputation of the Government of Guyana, as well as, the character and standing of every member of the government.
For the record, the letter stated that not a single cent has been withdrawn from the Natural Resource Fund.
The Natural Resource Fund Act 2021, No. 19 of 2021 provides for withdrawal from the Natural Resource Fund in the manner set out in the First Schedule.
The procedure for withdrawal is set out in Sections 16, 17 and 19 of the NRF Act. Significantly Section 17 (2) permits for the first ensuing year, that is, 2022, the withdrawal of the total balance accumulated in the account as at the date that the Act comes into operation.
The NRF Act 2021 was passed in the National Assembly on the December 29, 2021, duly assented to on the December 31, 2021, by the President and published in the Official Gazette of that date.
However, the letter stated that Section 19 of the NRF Act mandates the Minister responsible for Finance to request the National Assembly to approve the withdrawal from the fund, and, permits the said withdrawal to be included in the annual budget proposal for that year.
Importantly, the letter noted that in accordance with Section 19 of the NRF Act, the sum which is to be withdrawn from the fund for this fiscal year has been included in the annual budget proposal; concomitantly, a motion was circulated in the National Assembly on the February 1, 2022, by the Minister responsible for Finance, requesting the National Assembly to approve the aforementioned sum to be withdrawn from the Natural Resources Fund.
This motion, the letter stated is yet to be considered by the National Assembly. It is only if this motion is approved that monies will be withdrawn from the said fund.
Therefore, the provisions of the Natural Resources Fund Act were scrupulously observed both in their letter and spirit, as such the letter requested that Kaieteur News publish a retraction of the offensive and libelous headline and portions of the article along with an unconditional apology to the Government of Guyana.