General and Regional Elections must occur first, before the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) lends a hand to the preparation of the framework Guyana needs to manage the Petroleum industry.
That’s according to Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo, who participated in an interview with Kaieteur Radio 99.1 FM on August 4, 2019.
The Opposition Leader has held firm that, because the Government was defeated by a vote of no confidence on December 21, 2018, it is not in any capacity to work with the development of the oil sector.
“This President is no longer President. He’s caretaker President… The ‘caretaker’ means a lot.”
The Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) had, in its consequential orders on the No Confidence Cases, declared that the Government is in a ‘caretaker’ capacity.
According to Jagdeo, because of the three-month timeframe stipulated by the Constitution in the case of a validly passed No Confidence Motion, General and Regional Elections should have happened by March 21, 2019.
“This President has been running an illegal, unconstitutional Government since March 21. He behaves as though he has full powers. But in the eyes of the CCJ… he’s a Caretaker President.”
Jagdeo said, “Everyone should be in campaign mode now. The oil companies are not going to leave.”
As the country waits for elections, it draws closer to First Oil in 2020, which is months away. Questions abound about whether Guyana is ready to handle it. As Government is in a Caretaker mode, it has limited its power out of respect for the CCJ’s ruling. Yet, it is scrambling to make sure there are sufficient provisions in place.
Jagdeo does not appear concerned about the time that will be lost, as long as elections are held in a timely manner. In that event, he contends that the PPP would win, and that it will fix the deficits in the current framework in a very short period.
Another option would be to work with the Government right now, but the Opposition Leader is not entertaining that.
“I don’t want to waste my time. Let’s have early elections and we’ll fix this. The PPP will fix this issue, so that our people benefit more from these things.”
He said that, after elections, “We [will] set the local content, the regulatory framework, a sovereign wealth fund, auctioning of the future blocks, everything. The entire architecture for proper management of the resources will be completed within six months.”
He said that the Government has been found lacking in its engagement with the oil companies, their contractual agreements and in the architecture it has devised to manage the industry. He also said that the hiding of the US$18M signing bonus that came with the Stabroek Production Sharing Agreement (PSA) indicates that the current administration does not look out for the interests of the people.
He decried several aspects of the Stabroek PSA, including the blanket tax waivers, lack of ring-fencing provisions, and the meager two percent royalty. He also criticised the Orinduik PSA which allows the oil companies to recover the one percent royalty, or as he calls it, zero royalty.
He even criticised the Natural Resource Fund and its Act, which, he said, places the “Minister of Finance [Winston Jordan] in charge of the fund”. He has advocated for the management of the fund, and the rest of the sector, to be placed at quite a distance from politicians.
He added that, in the post-election period, there will be plenty of opportunities for a PPP government to work with other parties.
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