The belief that Government mishandled all issues in relation to the revelation of the US$18M signing bonus it received from ExxonMobil is not only shared by anticorruption advocates but also by some members within the Coalition fold.
Executive Member of the Working People’s Alliance (WPA), Dr. David Hinds, is one such individual who holds the view that the scandal represents nothing but poor judgment.
During an interview, Dr. Hinds contended that the issue and how it was handled by the administration represents a deep-seated disdain for the rights of citizens to know what is being done in their name.
The political activist said, “When you are faced with a vigilant opposition and a vibrant media, your judgment about how and when you disseminate information is very important.
“You simply cannot be cavalier about these things because when the information is exposed before you reveal it, you are put on the defensive. This is what happened here.”
Dr. Hinds continued, “The government waited too long to divulge the information and somebody leaked it. Now it looks as if there was some ulterior motive when there may not be any. If there is one, time will tell…Governments in Guyana and the Caribbean have long had this disdain for the right of citizens to know.”
He added that it is a result of the political tribalism that allows the governments to feel that whatever they do, there will not be political punishment from their supporters.
Dr. Hinds was reminded that he recently commended the government for ushering in the return of transparency with the promised release of the oil contract this month.
He was asked to comment if he believes that the administration has taken 10 steps backward with the signing bonus matter.
“I wouldn’t say ten steps backward. But this new revelation has certainly erased whatever points they scored by finally deciding to release the details of the contract. People focus on the latest slip up rather than the latest correction.”
To the benefit of the government, the political activist said that it did say that it was going to release the information about the bonus at the same time as the contracts. He noted, however, that this does not matter now—“Someone released it before them.”
Dr. Hinds said he has no reason to doubt the government when it said that the US$18M was put into a special account at Central Bank to be used to protect Guyana’s territorial integrity.
He said that no one has provided any evidence that this is not so. But given all the secrecy, Dr. Hinds said he is not surprised that some people are not inclined to believe the Government.
He insists, “I take them at their word.”
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