– Former Presidential Advisor
By Kiana Wilburg
During his time as the President’s Advisor on Petroleum, Dr. Jan Mangal, said he strived to ensure the principles of transparency and accountability were part and parcel of every government decision. But this was easier said than done.
Not only did he have to deal with the reluctance of some Ministers to act swiftly on critical petroleum issues, but in other instances, Dr. Mangal said he faced resistance to his proposals to disclose key information to the nation.
During an exclusive interview with Kaieteur News, recently, Dr. Mangal said that former Foreign Affairs Minister and now Foreign Secretary, Carl Greenidge, was resistant to proposals for the disclosure of the ExxonMobil contract, which also involved the revelation of the US$18M signing bonus.
The Petroleum Consultant said, “He seemed very much against releasing the contract with ExxonMobil for the Stabroek Block.
“He was against providing the contract to the Guyanese people, the very people who own the oil. Not releasing the contract also meant not telling the Guyanese people about the signing bonus, which I knew had to be disclosed.”
Further to this, the former Presidential Advisor said that former Minister Greenidge, of all the Ministers, showed the most resistance to the renegotiation of the lopsided deal.
Dr. Mangal said, “I was pushing for a rebalancing of the contract so Guyana could get a fair share, but former Minister Greenidge and Sir Shridath Ramphal were completely against it.
“(Greenidge) was extremely annoyed by the thought of renegotiation.”
The Petroleum Consultant was also keen to remind how former Minister Greenidge and others claimed that “everything had to be kept secret” as a result of the controversy that arose from Venezuela’s spurious claims over Guyana’s territorial waters.
Dr. Mangal insists that “this was nonsense” while noting that it is a common ploy of politicians to hide behind “national security” issues.
He said, “No doubt Venezuela is a serious issue for Guyana, but the solution to that is via international diplomacy and not via trying to buy a strong bodyguard whose only interest is ripping you off.”
Kaieteur News would have reported that the Granger administration said that Venezuela’s claim on Guyana’s territorial waters was part of the reason why the receipt of the signing bonus was kept quiet. Part of the money was dedicated to Guyana’s legal fight against the matter.
Furthermore, Dr. Mangal said one has to remember that an important way to make officials accountable to the people is via transparency.
He said it is important to give the people all the information so they can decide.
“Guyanese people are not stupid, but the politicians have treated us as stupid for half a century,” Dr. Mangal added.
The Petroleum Consultant asserted as well that “Secrecy equals corruption while transparency equals good governance”; hence, he was very clear about the need to release the Exxon contract.
Dr. Mangal said, “I (had) advised that the longer contracts were kept secret, the more damaging it would be for the government once the information comes out, and that it would come out eventually. So it was best to release the information as soon as possible.”
The former Advisor said he is convinced President David Granger saw the benefits of transparency, and how it would help Guyana.
He further stated that it was because of the President’s intervention that the contracts were finally released to the people.
Dr. Mangal said, “I believe it was the President who was instrumental in releasing the contracts, and this was an immensely positive and bold decision for Guyana by the President; Guyanese need to recognise and be thankful for this.”
Yesterday, Kaieteur News made numerous attempts to contact Greenidge to respond to the allegations being made by Dr. Mangal.
When contacted via a mobile call, he was told of the claims and said he would respond to the former Presidential Advisor in his own time.
When pressed for a comment, nonetheless, he said he would return a call within 10 minutes but he never did.
Several calls had to be made before Greenidge could be reached once more. He subsequently promised that a note would be sent by 7:45 PM.
Up to press time, Kaieteur News received no note in response to Dr. Mangal’s claim and all calls to the Foreign Secretary’s mobile number went unanswered.
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