The fact that Ministers of Government can lie openly, over and over to the nation and get off scot-free is indicative of the state of affairs in Guyana, politically, according to Attorney-at-law, Christopher Ram.
Ram thinks that now that the dust has settled and it has become clear as day that Minister of Finance, Winston Jordan, and Minister of Natural Resources, Raphael Trotman, both lied to the nation about the signing bonus.
There should be some sort of penalty, he said. However, he did not suggest what form this penalty should take.
Ram, in his most recent column, noted that Article 10 of the new Petroleum Agreement signed between ExxonMobil, its partners and the Government of Guyana has been amended.
Article 10 has been amended to replace a number of annual charges with a US$1M per year for annual rental charge. Ram said that the figure may sound high but it works out at less than 30 US cents per annum per hectare, or 12.5 US cents per annum!
“What a bargain! But that is not the only thing of interest. Payments under this Article 10 shall be paid directly into bank accounts held and controlled by the Government of Guyana. Contractor shall verify such bank accounts and the Minister agrees to cooperate, assist and provide Contractor any information it requires to conduct such verification.
Trotman was central to this bank account,” Yet, he feigned ignorance of the money paid to the account.
Ram then noted, “Trotman is not the only liar.”
He said, “Maybe at this stage it is useful to juxtapose this Article 10 with the Signing Bonus Article 33 which provides as follows: ‘The Contractor shall pay the Government a signature bonus of eighteen million United States Dollars (US$18,000,000). Such payment will be made within a period of fifteen (15) Business Days after the Effective Date, or such earlier date as agreed amongst the Parties. Such payment will be made to a bank account within the Bank of Guyana, which is owned by the Government as designated in writing by the Minister of Finance of the Government. Contractor shall verify such bank accounts and the Minister agrees to cooperate, assist and provide Contractor any information it requires to conduct such verification.”
Ram continued, “Finance Minister Winston Jordan played an integral part in the decision on where the Signing Bonus should be deposited. Yet, like Trotman (or Shaggy), he continued to deny! Worse still, he failed to report it in 2016 and in the 2017 and 2018 National Estimates. A country is in a bad shape when its key Ministers can lie openly and blatantly without any penalty or sanction.”
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