Mar 22, 2017 News
By Kiana Wilburg
Devastating effects can follow when a nation’s resources are mismanaged; when various forms of corruption are allowed to take the steering wheel instead of effective systems of governance.
Guyana, a resource-rich nation, has great experience in this regard. Its forestry sector is an ideal example of demonstrating what happens when checks and balances are not in place; when the nation is left in the dark about what it is getting in return for the exploitation of its resources.
With this as its premise, the Private Sector Commission (PSC) is taking a firm stance when it comes to Guyana’s looming multibillion-dollar oil and gas industry.
Members of this body insist that given Guyana’s lessons in other sectors, Guyanese need to know more about the oil deals that are currently in place, and what the nation and its people stand to benefit.
Specifically making these points recently was the PSC Chairman, Eddie Boyer.
“Guyanese need to know what is really going on out there in that Stabroek block… how many oil companies are out there, what they are finding, how we are going to work on policing these people in ensuring that Guyanese get what they deserve for their resources, and what deals were signed between those companies and the Government of Guyana,” the businessman stated.
He added, “They (the government) should be preparing the private sector and the Guyanese people for the future that awaits them with this oil sector. We cannot begin to imagine the future that lies ahead of us with what is going on out there. The carbon credits, the other minerals out there…what is out there can really propel Guyana to the next level.”
Other members of the Private Sector who spoke with Kaieteur News indicated that the Government should also push to hold more seminars and programmes that would make Guyanese more aware of how they intend to handle the coming oil sector. They also called for the speedy reform of legislation governing the oil and gas sector.
One of the ways in which the Government is preparing Guyana to properly handle the oil sector, specifically with regard to guarding against corruption, is by working towards fast tracking Guyana’s application to be a member of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI).
EITI is an international body which allows scrutiny of government’s records of what they receive from companies in the extractive sectors. These include oil and gas, mining and forestry, among other areas.
The body also urges for the contracts of those companies in the sector to be made public, among other measures for guarding against corruption. These disclosure requirements are expected to bring a level of transparency and accountability in the extractive sector that is practically unheard of in Guyana.
The Government’s action in this regard was spurred particularly by the declaration of significant oil finds in the Stabroek block by ExxonMobil.
Should Guyana become a member of EITI, it will be required to ask all companies in the extractive sector, including Exxon Mobil, to reveal what it is paying the government, among other things.
While there are a few more stages left to go through, Guyana certainly made significant headway recently as it relates to its application for membership to the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative with the launching of Guyana’s very own EITI Multi-stakeholder Group (MSG). This is one of the requirements for Guyana to make it into the EITI fold.
Speaking to the importance of the initiative, Dr. Rudy Jadoopat, National Coordinator of Guyana’s EITI Secretariat, said that EITI brings together a number of groups. He said that these include oil and gas companies, representatives of government, local and international stakeholders and assessment management companies.
He stressed that the objective of the EITI is to bring international and acceptable standards for transparency to the oil, gas and mining sector.
“EITI creates opportunities for the building of trust among stakeholders and indeed the community at large. Companies are required to disclose what they pay to government and the government must in turn disclose what receipts from the companies are made.”
Dr. Jadoopat added: “These figures are then compared to discover any discrepancies, and the information made public as a way to foster public scrutiny and greater accountability over natural resource profits earned by governments…”
He said, too, that Guyana has already satisfied a number of requirements. However, there are still a few steps which need to be completed. These include adapting the terms of reference of the MSG, determine the materiality and scope, to review and finalize a draft work plan, to prepare a communication strategy and plan for it, to review and ensure the finalization of the scoping study which was commissioned and prepared by a consulting firm etc.
The National Director assured that the Secretariat will provide support to the MSG.
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