Recently, several public officials have been very casual over various important matters concerning the country’s governance. For almost two years, this newspaper has published several articles forewarning the government about ExxonMobil’s deplorable practices in a number of countries. Today, Exxon has saddled Guyana with a pre-contract bill of US$900 million, and some oil experts have claimed that the amount could rise to as much as US$1.2 billion before the pumping of oil in March 2020.
Rather than looking at the emerging facts, some of our decision-makers have taken the newspaper to task for its critical reporting on ExxonMobil. They have and continued to accuse Kaieteur News of spreading propaganda and of carrying out an ideological campaign to smear ExxonMobil, which they claim is a very good company that has Guyana’s interests at heart. Kaieteur News has now warned the Guyana government not to fall for China’s Belt and Road Initiative scheme which is at the centre of its global outreach to have control over a number of poor western nations. It would be in Guyana’s best interest not to become too deeply involved in the Initiative. It should not ignore the serious problems encountered by other countries in other parts of the world.
International experts have described the China Belt and Road Initiative as a subtle debt-trap diplomacy and invasion policy. Many countries, including Djibouti, Pakistan, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Maldives, Mongolia, Montenegro and Tajikistan are overburdened with debt as a result of their participation in the initiative.
In almost all of the cases, the costs of the projects were highly inflated with the intentions of massive kickbacks, but government officials regularly boast about the initiatives and its economic prospects and benefits. However, a report from Harvard University revealed that over the past decade, China has extended hundreds of billions of dollars in loans to 68 countries that often cannot afford to repay them. The loans have resulted in financial destabilization in several countries, with ten of them currently facing total bankruptcy, thus enabling China to either seize or have control over their most valuable assets.
Not only is Guyana indebted to China for the reconstruction of the Cheddi Jagan International Airport and the Marriott Hotel, but it has become the most recent nation with an eye on the Belt and Road Initiative.
Guyana has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with China in this regard. Concerned about criticism and the fallout from media reports, the government has tried to calm the fears of the people by candidly defending Guyana’s interest over its signature of the China Belt and Road Initiative.
In his third press conference in three years, President Granger has stated that the government has entered into the Initiative with its eyes wide open, and will not take anything for granted like the rest of countries. He did not elaborate or provide any specifics. The Guyanese people will, however, hold him to his word.
It is important that independent media outlets, in particular, continue to highlight the need for the government to be prudent with its decisions, since indebtedness has already set us back in untold ways. One of the key pillars of every democratic and progressive society is a free, independent, unbiased and assertive press that is capable of, and committed to, speaking truth to power and keeping the government on its toes.
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