It would appear that the hysteria surrounding the grossly speculative and accusatory Global Witness report which claimed that negotiators for the APNU+AFC government succeeded in depriving the country, and profiting ExxonMobil, of US$55 billion has subsided for a few days, at least.
At the same time, evidence continues to emerge about the coalition government’s studied and determined approach, led by the Department of Energy and its indefatigable and very competent Head, Dr. Mark Bynoe, in successfully engaging international expertise and support in crafting sound policies and developing national capabilities to manage the fast-expanding petroleum sector.
Earlier this week, it was announced, by Dr. Bynoe, that Guyana’s Local Content Policy and Guidelines for a Depletion Policy have been completed, disproving the argument that Guyanese will have little say, or stake, in the development of our oil resources. The former ensures that local goods and services are given first preference, and that Guyanese are trained and recruited for jobs in the petroleum sector.
He also announced the engagement of consultants, local and international, to conduct a revision of the Petroleum (Exploration and Production) Act under the World Bank-funded Petroleum Resources Governance and Management Project, intended to improve and develop the legal and institutional infrastructure and institutional capacity to manage the sector.
I judge these developments, and the many other achievements of the Department of Energy, to signify ongoing successful management of the national treasure on behalf of all Guyanese, who cannot be disparaged by the incessant criticism and predictions of looming economic disaster.
The detractors and electoral competitors of APNU+AFC have worked very hard to create a vision of tremendous national loss and inevitable poverty under the coalition’s stewardship of our natural resources and our relationship with ExxonMobil, and ignored these positive developments and the upliftment, already, of a million barrels of oil.
The criticisms of the Government of Guyana/Exxon relationship seem to be based on willful ignorance of the multi-dimensional role of foreign investment in developing countries and its determination of international assistance and support, including diplomatic, security, development and financial assistance, both at the bilateral and multilateral levels. The insistence on a uni-dimensional view of the relationship is clearly simplistic, opportunistic and blatant political posturing.
I am convinced that the 2016 revised Production Sharing Agreement (PSA) with Exxon does not spell economic disaster for Guyana, and believe that what threatens our well-being as a nation is the inability, or unwillingness, of some of our political leaders to put national interests above selfish ones.
Criticism and disagreement are, undoubtedly, fundamental aspects of democratic culture, as is working together in the national interest. I do not believe that our development is assured, or enhanced, when local forces studiously conspire to undermine the state and inhibit the functioning of the National Assembly for over a year.
It is also problematic when our political leaders seem unable to, for example, appoint a Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission without outside interference or to appoint a substantive Chancellor of the Judiciary or Chief Justice. The main problem for Guyana, I submit, is our overly antagonistic governance culture, which we must all strive to improve following these elections.
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