If you went to school fifty years ago, you would recall that there was a prescribed English textbook called, “Read, Think and Write.”
The title of that book dictated a logical process of comprehension. First, you read the passage, then you thought about the passage the questions, which followed and then you wrote down your answer.
You would never answer a question about a comprehension passage without first having read the passage. You would be guessing if before writing you did not think about the question.
The government has been signing a great number of agreements. This past week saw the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding on energy cooperation between Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago. Agreements were also signed for loans from China but not much details have emerged about these latter agreements.
And one would assume that before these agreements were drafted and formulated that they would have been read by the entire Cabinet and that the Cabinet would have contemplated over these agreements before granting the approval. So did Cabinet examine these agreements and did it discuss these agreements and was agreement reached on them?
The media must ask these questions whenever they get the chance to do so because it would represent a travesty if such major agreements were signed without any deliberations.
In the case of the MOU with Trinidad and Tobago, the Cabinet needs to understand that this MOU can be part of an attempt by the government of Trinidad and Tobago, notwithstanding its obvious one-sided benefits to that country, to divert attention from the internal problems being faced by that country whose economy, like Venezuela, is dominated by the oil and gas sector.
That sector has been mismanaged in Trinidad and Tobago and that country has an interest in seeking alternative economic opportunities for its surplus skilled oil and gas workforce.
The local private sector is concerned about local content in petroleum and about being crowded out by the Trinidadians who have more experience and experts in this area.
Trinidad needs an ideational justification for its penetration into the Guyana petroleum sector. And regional integration can become a ruse of justifying what many fear is an imminent invasion by Trinidadians. It is easy for some persons to speak about the dangers of insularity.
The fact is that the Caribbean is nothing but insular. From cricket to business to international appointments, there is jostling over which nationals should receive the nod.
When the West Indies cricket team is announced, for example, every Caribbean country looks to see how many of their nationals are included. Let us therefore not pretend that there is no insularity. There has always been insularity and it is this insularity, which is necessary to protect the individual national interests. There is nothing wrong with being insular.
So did Cabinet approve of all of these agreements, which were signed or is the APNU having its own way within the government? The media must ask this question to ascertain whether the ramifications of these agreements were properly considered.
Guyana approved of the petroleum production licences for the Stabroek block without verifying the capital costs. This much has been admitted. It is a shocking development.
The Minister responsible for energy, under the laws of Guyana, can grant a petroleum production licence on terms and conditions as the Minister sees fit (including a new contract) or can refuse to do so.
The law is clear, however, that a licence should not be granted unless the plan submitted by the oil company ensures the most efficient and beneficial use of the petroleum resources concerned; there is sufficient capital available to undertake production; provision is made for the employment and training of Guyanese and that local content is satisfactory.
So when the government signed the agreement with ExxonMobil was it satisfied about all of these conditions? And did it not think that verifying the capital costs was integral to ensuring Guyana’s beneficial interests were met?
Read, think and write can be paraphrased to read, think and then sign. Was this the process, which guided the government in grating a petroleum exploration license to ExxonMobil and in signing the recent agreements with Trinidad and Tobago and China? Or has the government been signing and then verifying later?
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