Sep 20, 2017 News
– says minister should resign for misleading the nation
By Abena Rockcliffe-Campbell
With relevant information in hand, General Secretary of the People’s Progressive Party/ Civic (PPP/C) Bharrat Jagdeo yesterday hosted a press conference and sought to discredit Minister of Public Infrastructure, David Patterson.
The Press Conference was held at Freedom House. At, that forum, Jagdeo was bent on proving that Patterson was incorrect in the statements he recently made about the availability of petroleum mining blocks.
Recently when Patterson spoke about mining blocks at an Alliance For Change (AFC) press conference, he said that all petroleum mining blocks were given out; that some were given out by Jagdeo and that some of the companies that have been given blocks are not even known to the government.
Yesterday Jagdeo said that there is not a “thread of truth in the fabric of lies which Patterson presented to the media.”
The Opposition Leader claimed that Patterson lied to cover the fact that AFC is involved in some less than decent activities.
“It is a clever strategy on the part of Patterson not to deal with the substance of what I was saying which is that there is corruption (in the embryonic oil industry) but to then go and say that Jagdeo gave out all oil blocks and that there is nothing left,” said Jagdeo.
The former President then whipped out a copy of a map sourced from the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC). That map depicted the areas which have been given out, and the area where oil was found among other details.
Jagdeo said that a simple check with the GGMC would have done a “reckless” Patterson well, before he took the liberality to exalt himself with untruths.
Jagdeo said, “As you can see here, a substantial number of blocks are available, so that is the first lie.”
The Opposition Leader continued, “Imagine these people went to a press conference and said Jagdeo can’t be trusted. He is a liar. Then they proceed to lie to the nation that there are no more blocks available when their own government statistics show that there are several blocks available.
“So it is a lie by Patterson. It is incompetence and it is sinister; because now that he says that there is nothing available Jagdeo gave it all out it means that they can secretly give out all the substantial blocks because (as far as the nation knows) there is nothing left.”
Jagdeo then went as far as to say that Minister Patterson should be fired for lying or should be “sent for rehabilitation, sent back to primary school for not doing good research and I gather that he is the new spokesperson on oil and gas. God helps us.”
Addressing another aspect of “Patterson’s lie” the Opposition Leader said that Patterson also spoke in the absence of truth when the Minister pointed to him as the one who gave out the blocks.
Jagdeo said that he played no role in the distribution of any of the licences that were granted for petroleum mining. He said that he can recall renewing licences but never granting any.
“They want to personalize everything and say that it is Jagdeo but the blocks given out in the PPP period were not given out by me.”
Jagdeo said that while he is proud of the PPP history and the fact that the Party gave out the blocks he just wanted to note that he did not give out any, “They were given out in the period when Jagan was there and during the post 2013 period so that is another lie.”
The “third lie” that Jagdeo pointed out was that some of the companies that were granted licences cannot be verified or recognized by the Government of Guyana.
Jagdeo said that the licences were granted to Mid-Atlantic, Tallow Oil, CGX, Repsol, Ratio Guyana, Anadarko and ExxonMobil.
“And you can know exactly who the people are…Patterson said that government doesn’t know who they are. Well he could have easily asked the GGMC. So that is another lie to create the shroud of secrecy that somehow the PPP gave people that the country is not aware of or somebody does not know who they are,” said Jagdeo.
Jagdeo noted that in 2016 even after oil was found, Minister of Natural Resources, Raphael Trotman, granted a block to Tallow Oil, a United Kingdom (UK) based company.
Jagdeo said that the government is lying profusely. “Remember they said that Jagdeo amended the laws for disclosures? Another lie.
Jagdeo noted that Minister of Business Dominic Gaskin claimed that he, Jagdeo, amended the law in 2008.
“That was a lie. And then Ramjattan said I amended it in 2011; another lie. Then Trotman said I amended in 1997; yet another lie, I never amended it.”
The Opposition Leader maintained that he started this back and forth which is that there is corruption afoot in the oil industry. He maintained that members of the AFC are actively trying to access oil blocks but refused to name those members.
He said, “These blocks that were lying there before (oil discovery), which in many cases people did not even want, suddenly became valuable because Guyana became a country that has discovered oil…Only through a competitive system will we accrue the benefits to the state rather than to individuals.”
Jagdeo said that it is therefore imperative that Guyana adopt a competitive bidding process for the acquisition of oil blocks.
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