– tells AFC supporters that Guyana ready for First Oil
Leader of the Alliance for Change (AFC) and Minister of Public Security, Khemraj Ramjattan, yesterday attended a New York AFC Chapter meeting, where he met with the party’s supporters in the diaspora to discuss the current political situation in Guyana.
But on arrival at the venue, the Minister was met by a crowd shouting “We want elections now!”
Protest banners read “Respect the CCJ Ruling for Guyana” and “You were fired on December 21, 2018”.
The crowd demanded elections be called immediately, out of respect for the ruling by the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) on the No Confidence Motion of December 21, 2018.
General and Regional Elections have not been held in accordance with Constitutional dictates, as Government had not accepted its defeat, and had moved to challenge the motion in Court.
Then, after the CCJ declared the Motion passed, in finality, there have been difficulties at the level of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) finding a timeline that allows President David Granger to name an election date in a short, acceptable period. Current timelines proposed by the GECOM Secretariat place elections only as early as March, 2020.
Ramjattan, in addressing a group at the meeting, labeled the protest as an “unfortunate scene”.
“Apparently, it follows me all across. But whether it be Port Mourant or Albion, Anna Regina or Queens, I will be there to give my side of the story to the people. And I will do so unhindered. Notwithstanding whatever the protest demonstrators will be doing.” Ramjattan stated.
Nevertheless, he said that it is good to know that democracy is “alive and kicking”.
He explained that he traveled after a request from the US Government who, through the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), is assisting Guyana to develop the capacity of the police force.
During the meeting, from sector to sector, Ramjattan was determined in his utterances, to prove that Guyana is being well managed.
The AFC Leader sought to assure the party’s supporters that developments in Guyana are favourable. Crime in Guyana has been on a steady decline, he said, thanks to the intervention of the Ministry of Public Security and its subordinate agencies, according to the Public Security Minister. He informed the gathering of the most recent developments in public security, including the current Georgetown Smart City initiative. He dismissed concerns that the cameras installed by Chinese tech giant, Huawei, may be used to invade the privacy of the Guyanese public, telling the gathering that persons are only speaking out because they’re not fond of Huawei.
On the political front, the AFC leader detailed the events of December 21, 2018 leading up to present, from his perspective, casting former AFC member of Parliament, Charrandass Persaud’s vote against Government as a betrayal. He also defended, fiercely, the House-to-House exercise which was halted by GECOM, adding that it is necessary for all Guyanese to have a fair opportunity to cast a vote in the upcoming General and Regional Elections.
On the oil front, the Minister fought back against disapproval of Government’s handlings of its negotiations with oil companies, and he defended against criticisms of the framework Government has developed for the operation of the Petroleum sector.
He said that the contracts signed with the oil companies, including the controversial ExxonMobil agreement for the Stabroek Block are good and that they will benefit Guyana. This is despite the fact that various local and international experts have pointed out a series of toothless provisions, and the lack thereof, which could cost Guyana billions of US dollars in revenue.
The Public Security Minister said that, as it negotiated with ExxonMobil, it had to make a choice between having a low royalty with profit sharing, and a high royalty alone; that it decided it would be better to have an agreement which allows Guyana to share profits with the oil companies.
The two percent that was negotiated in the Stabroek Production Sharing Agreement (PSA) has been criticised because it is an industry low, even by the standards of contracts which include profit sharing. But the Minister maintains that Guyana will get considerable revenue when oil starts pumping.
He further said that when government found out about the first discovery in 2015, it made a decision to have Exxon move to production as soon as possible. Guyana is expected to start production next year. Ramjattan even told the gathering that a recent conversation with Minister of Natural Resources, Raphael Trotman, led him to understand that ExxonMobil could start pumping oil for commercial purposes as early as December.
It will make one of the shortest periods in history that an oil producing nation has jumped from its first discovery to First Oil, and will come at the expense of the framework that that sector must operate in, as many have waxed about Guyana’s unpreparedness.
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