ExxonMobil is operating in Guyana to make money. But, according to former Presidential Advisor, Jan Mangal, too many Government officials run away with the idea that the oil giant is here to “rescue” the country.
Mangal said as much to Al Jazeera during a recent interview. It was Director of Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment, Lisa Sachs, who was speaking about the many areas where Guyana is lacking in regard to preparedness. Sachs said that the unpreparedness can land Guyana in a bit of trouble.
Mangal interrupted Sachs on this point. He said, “The odds are stacked against Guyana, and a lot of work is needed. Imran (Khan, Director of Public Information) puts a positive spin on it and that is good; we need a positive spin. But, we also need to recognize the risks; and unfortunately, enough people in government are not recognizing the risks.”
Mangal continued, “We have to recognize that ExxonMobil is not here to rescue Guyana, Exxon is here to make money. But we have people in Government are running around saying that Exxon is here to save Guyana. It is a completely wrong attitude.”
Mangal said that this sort of attitude is what landed Guyana is so much trouble already.
He inferred that because of the trust Guyana has in Exxon, Government did not see a need to have experts at the negotiation table.
Mangal said, “Guyana did not negotiate well in a renegotiation process that happened recently. Guyana negotiated with zero expertise; they did not bring in anyone to negotiate.”
This is when Christopher Ram, who was also a part of the interview, interrupted, “Jan, didn’t a Minister of the government, who is one of the quintet plus one, say that Guyana did not even negotiate, that there were no negations to arrive at this contract?”
Ram was referring to Minister of Natural Resources, Raphael Trotman who said that the contract was only “updated” not renegotiated.
But Mangal maintained that there was a renegotiation. Ram said, “Well I am telling you what a sitting Minister said and he is a member of the quintet plus one.”
The quintet plus one was organically made up of five government ministers and Mangal. Mangal is no longer in the picture as Government has not renewed his contract.
Director of Public Information, Imran Khan, refuted Mangal’s utterances that Ministers see ExxonMobil as Guyana’s saviour.
He said, “I do not think it is fair for Jan to say that Ministers are running round saying that Exxon is here to save Guyana. I do not think that that is a view being promulgated in Guyana in anyway.
“I do think that Government sees Exxon as a partner; we are very much aware of the risks and that is why we are ensuring that we get the best international advice including from Jan recently.”
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