By Abena Rockcliffe-Campbell
President of the Transparency Institute of Guyana Inc.,(TIGI) Dr. Troy Thomas is of the opinion that the level of scrutiny given to the Production Sharing Agreement (PSA) that Guyana signed with ExxonMobil is indeed a major benefit to the nation.
The transparency advocate said that the benefits highlight the importance of transparency as “if the contract was not made public, no one would have been given the opportunity to scrutinize it.”
Dr. Thomas said that TIGI is proud of its unwavering advocacy for the contract to be made public and is happy that the government took heed.
He opined that the publication of the contract has not erased the wrong done in withholding the contract in the first place, but is a step in the right direction.
“It took a long time (for the contract to be made public). The contract was already finalized by the time we got to see it. And there is still another appendix that needs to be published (the Bridging Deed) but at least it is out and that is important so it can be scrutinized, and locals are doing a fine job,” Dr. Thomas asserted.
He said that the level of scrutiny offered, and the details that have been analyzed and made public, prove that “locals have more expertise than we are given credit for.”
Dr. Thomas said that TIGI would be happy if the Government can continue in the right direction of transparency and make all other contracts public. He said if others are made public, they too can be scrutinized and corrections can be made.
He said that he would not want to comment further on the contract, because TIGI is in the process of putting a series of statements together about the contract “and I do not want to preempt that.”
There have indeed been some damning revelations about the content of the 2016 PSA and the implications that it may have for Guyana. It has been revealed that the government has committed to repaying ExxonMobil US$460M for its pre-contract cost, and will stand the bill for litigation brought against ExxonMobil that has anything to do with the company’s operation here.
ExxonMobil has also been granted unlimited duty free concession for anything it wants to import.
The Minister of Natural Resources is prohibited from visiting the production site without notifying ExxonMobil seven days in advance and can only carry out once-a-year audits. Guyana has also given up the right to scrutinize records that ExxonMobil has in other countries with restrictive disclosure laws, in relation to operations here.
Also, Guyana has signed on to a very oppressive stability clause that immunizes ExxonMobil from any new law, tax or otherwise, that will stand in the way of the huge profits the company intends to reap. Guyana has given up the right to immunization too.
On top of all of that, and other provisions that have been described as oppressive, Guyana has agreed to a 75 percent yearly cost recovery ceiling and has settled for a two percent royalty.
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