By Abena Rockcliffe-Campbell
His rationale is similar to that used by persons who choose to impose security measures at their homes. While it may be costly, it is for the protection of resources considered more valuable. But former Presidential Advisor on Petroleum, Jan Mangal says that government is opposed to going this route. Mangal said this yesterday during a live interview conducted by Al Jazeera, an international and well credited media entity. Mangal was on a panel which included attorney-at-law, Christopher Ram, Director of Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment, Lisa Sachs and Director of Public Information, Imran Khan.
Al Jazeera’s host said, “Oil companies have identified massive offshore reserves in Guyana, one of South America’s poorest nations. New estimates last week report that more than 4 billion barrels of oil could be extracted from a region known as the Stabroek block, where ExxonMobil expects to start pumping crude in 2020. The country is poised to become a major energy supplier, but not everyone is optimistic about the potential for oil revenue to benefit Guyanese citizens. So what can Guyana do to avoid becoming another poor, yet resource-rich nation?”
Khan was first to speak on the interview, he attempted to speak on all the plans that the APNU+AFC government has for Guyana. But, before he could have finished his speech, Khan was interrupted.
He was saying, “We are ensuring we are getting the best advice from global experts to ensure that this transformation opportunity for infrastructural, social and economical change is not squandered.”
Mangal interjected, “What Imran says there are all good words, but when you look at what is happening on the ground it’s a different story. Imran mentioned the need for having experts. In fact there are consultants coming and going, but there are zero oil and gas experts—people with 15 to 30 years plus experience—on the ground working full time in decision making roles in the government.”
Mangal said that, “Unfortunately, there seems to be huge reluctance hiring the required capacity.”
Khan tried to defend government’s position. He pointed out that experts have been engaged.
He said that Mangal “…has been and I am sure he will be in the future. There are experts giving advice on short term basis.”
Khan noted that internationally recognized Paul Collier has been to Guyana and briefed the President and his Cabinet. But, both Ram and Mangal said that this is not enough.
Mangal said, “These names are being thrown out and that is what the government is good at, throwing these names around. But, where is the substance?”
He continued, “Having a trip for one day is insufficient. We need people on the ground working there on one- and two-year contracts. Guyana can spend $10M now and save $1B in the future. But the government is unwilling to do this.”
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