Very rarely has Guyana been seen in a positive light by the international media. During the 1960s, its image has been tarnished by racial violence and in the 1970s by the Jonestown tragedy.
Only a few months ago, it was ridiculed by the New York Times journalist Clifford Krauss, whose article about Guyana being a primitive society was offensive, derogatory and untruthful.
Recently, there have been positive reports on Guyana from foreign media outlets due to the discovery of oil in the country by the U.S. oil giant, ExxonMobil.
While Guyanese at home and in the Diaspora are ecstatic of their country’s new found wealth, they are also disappointed that the government had signed a horrible oil contract that would benefit ExxonMobil more than the residents of Guyana.
The government was already under fire for its failure to release the contract. It was a serious mistake by the government which had promised to be transparent.
Much of the country’s skills and expertise in oil exploration reside in the Diaspora but the government has no effective strategy at the moment to engage them. Many in the Diaspora who are highly qualified and experienced are willing to offer their services free of cost, but only a few with party contacts are consulted.
Despite the almost euphoric optimism expressed by many Guyanese at home and abroad, with oil set to flow in March 2020 and as the authorities are bracing for the shock of the nation’s new found wealth from oil, there are challenges that are beginning to emerge.
One of those challenges is the lack of qualified personnel in Guyana to conduct a robust audit to verify the accuracy of ExxonMobil’s $US460 million pre-contract operations bill it submitted to the government for payment.
Another challenge is that the government has no system in place at the moment to verify what constitutes legitimate expenses of its 50/50 share in profit after all legitimate expenses are deducted by ExxonMobil.
To meet these challenges, the government should harness the required skills and expertise needed from Guyanese in the Diaspora to ensure the reaping of the benefits of this unprecedented discovery of oil.
It is true that governments past and present have urged Guyanese in the Diaspora to return home to help develop the country, but they are being resented by the locals, who do not trust them.
The locals felt that Guyanese in the diaspora have abandoned the country by fleeing to the United States and Canada during the darkest moments of their economic and political struggles. Many of them believe that Guyanese in the diaspora have an advantage over them because of their qualifications, skills and expertise.
That said, it is a colossal mistake for locals to want remittances, political donations and money for projects from Guyanese in the Diaspora and not their skill, knowledge, experience or expertise.
However, the Diaspora is hopeful that the administration will seek their skills and expertise to complement the local talents, workplace culture and ideas.
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