– Minister wants newspaper to back off
By Abena Rockcliffe-Campbell
“Wait until (ExxonMobil) does something, and then alert the country. But do not harass them before the production even starts.” That was the advice given to the media yesterday, particularly Kaieteur News, by Minister of Foreign Affairs, Carl Greenidge.
It was almost as if Greenidge was asking for ExxonMobil to be given kid-glove treatment.
The Minister hosted a press conference yesterday at a committee room in Public Buildings. At that forum, Greenidge spoke extensively about the signing bonus that Government received from ExxonMobil.
During the discourse, he made several references to the “cuss out” that the media has been “putting” on ExxonMobil.
Asked what it is he saw in the media that constituted the “cuss out” he spoke about, Greenidge said that there are a number of articles “even addressed to the Minister of Foreign Affairs for simply responding to queries from journalists as regards the matter.”
Greenidge said that ExxonMobil broke no law as yet in Guyana and as such, should be left alone. The company’s track record has no relevance here.
“The company broke no law, owes no taxes but you run a campaign that the company is not trustworthy,” said Greenidge.
The Minister said that if the press has concerns about the company based on its track record, the press should try to hold the government accountable.
“You should say to the government, ‘look, make sure your GRA (Guyana Revenue Authority) or whoever else, is in a position to enforce the law. I have no difficulty with that. But when you run a campaign every week saying a company should not be trusted, this is irresponsible.
“What I have seen is irresponsible and I would not want to go further, because I do not want to start a war with the newspaper but there are other dimensions.”
Greenidge said that the media has a responsibility to give companies a fair chance. “We need them. The capacity of Exxon, technically and financially, is unrivaled.”
Greenidge noted that in 51 years, Guyana has not managed to attract a “single company of consequence to drill anywhere in this country. And what it is you are saying to me before the company can pump two barrels of oil?
“Y’all down the road cussing them out. (Saying that) they are terrible, who they ain’t rob, they put money in somebody’s account and the president spend it. What does that have to do with the company? A company that pays taxes any place has no say in how the money is spent. That is the government’s responsibility.”
Greenidge saw nothing wrong with the company depositing money in a president’s private account.
Further, Greenidge jabbed transparency advocates. He said that “many of those who talk transparency, their activities won’t see the light of day.”
Greenidge had said that many Ambassadors have been approaching him with concerns about the manner in which the press has been reporting certain issues. It was asked of him whether ExxonMobil has any complaints. He responded in the affirmative.
The Minister said, “I think in my own experience with Exxon, they are cool on these things because it is a big enough company to handle itself. But we were asked recently about what was behind this.”
“If a company did something, they know whether it is that they didn’t pay taxes or so, but in this case, the reason for the demonization is unclear.”
Greenidge said that there are domestic companies that do not pay taxes and are still in arrears.
He suggested that there were worst companies than ExxonMobil operating in Guyana. He identified Alcan as one of those. Alcan is a Canadian mining company that operated in Guyana many years ago.
“There was a time in this country when GRA would turn up at the gates at Linden to audit the accounts of the company…and the officers were chased out of the compound, chased out of Linden.”
“The point I am making is if you are going to make an effective case, you should be reacting to a company that has done Guyana something. Wait until they do something, alert the country, but not harass them before the production even starts.”
Greenidge said that the reporting on ExxonMobil has many companies jittery. He said that other companies are now wanting to know, “Is it my turn next?”
This newspaper had done a series called “What Guyana needs to know about ExxonMobil.” The series highlighted the modus operandi of ExxonMobil around the world. It was intended not to be interpreted as a “cuss out” but as a patriotic initiative to help Guyana be on its guard. ExxonMobil’s disregard for the wellbeing of many nations was highlighted in the series. All articles were attributed to credible sources and links, and were included for the benefit of those who wanted to follow and do further research.
Follow this link to read one of the many articles contained in the series. https://www.kaieteurnewsonline.com/2017/08/13/exxonmobil-caught-putting-m-into-private-bank-account-of-african-govt/.
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