– In effort to quell “natural distrust for political elites”
By Abena Rockcliffe-Campbell
“As is standard in the extractive industries, contacts of this nature have confidentiality clauses. Tullow Oil is the same. The government is working to release all contracts, so consultations with the companies will ensue.”
So said Minister of Natural Resources, Raphael Trotman, as he defended government’s commitment to transparency.
Last week, Minister of State, Joseph Harmon, announced Government’s decision to release the production contact that the coalition government signed with ExxonMobil. Citizens have long been calling for the release of the contract.
However, Government has been citing the confidentiality clause contained in the contracts as well as concerns for the nation’s sovereignty.
Subsequent to the announcement that the contract will be released, this newspaper inquired from Minister Trotman if the exploration contract that the government signed with UK firm, Tullow Oil, also has a confidentiality clause and if that contact will also be released to the public.
That is when the Minister indicated that he is looking to release all contracts for companies operating in the extractive industry (natural resources).
He said that at last Tuesday’s Cabinet meeting, Ministers expressed the view that there is nothing in the contract that is harmful to the government. “We have been speaking about sovereignty implication but the government has nothing to hide and so we are going to work out the timing and as much detail as we can to have the contract released.”
Trotman said, “Indeed all the contracts are of a similar nature. One of the operators have made a discovery but it is expected that others will as well, so we are going to engage them in terms of their position on Government’s desire to ensure transparency and accountability.”
Trotman said that the government believes that it is prudent to not only release ExxonMobil’s contract. “So we have to look at all contracts at this stage from Bosai to Rusal; they all have to be considered.”
“Government has nothing to hide.”
Trotman, asked if he was of the opinion that the government was unfairly beaten up upon by those who were passionate about the non-release of the contract, responded in the negative. He said he understands the position of those who called for the release of the contract.
“Maybe I am wrong to say this but I understand that when you are dealing with valuable resources, there is a natural distrust for political elites; that they are up to mischief and corruption. Trotman was keen to note that the innate distrust is not unique to Guyana.
“We understand that the people are entitled to know and so we have to work with the people to meet that expectation and that right without jeopardising things like our sovereignty or territorial integrity. There must be a balance,” said Trotman.
While there has been the announcement by the government that it is ready to release the contract, it seems as if ExxonMobil has not fully agreed to the release as yet.
ExxonMobil’s, Senior Director of Public and Government Affairs, Kimberly Brassington’s only comment was, “ExxonMobil supports transparency initiatives wherever we operate around the world. We look forward to discussions with our partners and the government with regard to Guyana.”
A few months ago, Brassington was quoted in the media saying that if the government demands the release, and all other oil companies decide to do the same, ExxonMobil will agree to the release its production contract with government.
Oct 16, 2018By Sean Devers in Trinidad In association with Regal, Vnet, Noble House Seafoods & Cascadia Hotel In murky conditions and played before virtually empty stands, Guyana Jaguars, led by a 79-run...
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