Governments have always been involved in a web of deception and scandals, but none could be worse than the US$18 million signing bonus and the contract between the government and Exxon Mobil. They have not only ensnared the government but also the entire country.
By keeping the contract a secret for more than a year has undermined the fundamental tenets of transparency and democracy. It is poor judgement and a disdain for the rights of people not to know what is being done in their name. The refusal to disseminate information to the public is serious. The Minister of Natural Resources and by extension the government have deceived the citizens. It is foolish for the government not to know that what transpired behind closed doors will eventually be made public with an attentive opposition and a watchful media such as Kaieteur News. Are they so clueless not to know this?
The secrecy surrounding the signing bonus and the contract is neither here nor there and could do lasting damage to the government. The people will likely lose trust in the government and it is possible that the public skepticism will greet all future contracts negotiated with giant multi-nationals by this government.
The Minister of Natural Resources should have known better that hiding the contract could be disadvantageous for the government. He has denied the people’s right to know which shows his contempt for them. The government has been caught in a lie and there is little President Granger can do to restore public confidence in his government other than to accept responsibility for the deception which he did. But that is not enough. He should apologize to the nation.
When in Opposition, the government has repeatedly promised to be transparent and accountable, but now in office, it has become so obsessed with the tenets power that both concepts have become meaningless to them. When the PPP was in power, several opposite members of APNU and the AFC who are now Ministers in this government have called for the prosecution of former Finance Minister, Dr. Ashni Singh for violating Section 85 of the Fiscal Management and Accountability Act. Today, they have done the same and even worst by breaching Article 216 of the Constitution by not placing the funds in the Consolidated Fund.
Despite warnings from Kaieteur News and many foreign governments on the dubious practices of ExxonMobil, yet several Ministers have showered praise on and spoke glowingly of Exxon Mobile without doing due diligence on the company. The signing of such a flawed and oppressive contract by the government is a classic demonstration of the poor and inept judgement by the authority. Exxon Mobil is fully aware of the lack of expertise, skills, and incompetency by government officials to negotiate such a huge contract and have used them to its advantage. They are also aware that some ministers are compromised and that their conduct borders on dishonesty and corruption.
The economy is struggling; our social system is falling apart; health care and education are in dire need, yet the government accepted a signing bonus of only US$18 million and a paltry two percent royalty from Exxon Mobil when the company gave hundreds of millions to other countries. Is this the worth of the more than1.4 billion barrels of oil discovered at the Liza oil field?
The excuses provided by the government to accept the signing bonus and to hide such a flawed and oppressive contract from the public are very poor. It is the forfeiting or surrendering Guyana’s natural resources. The government’s commitment to repay Exxon-Mobil US$460M for its pre-contract operations; the cost for litigation brought against the company during its operations here; the two percent royalty which is low by world standards; the prohibition on increases in taxes and duties even if local laws are changed; and the prevention of unannounced visits to the ExxonMobil offshore operation are just a few examples of the misfortune the country faces in future.
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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