When Exxon struck oil in 2015, it made this fact known to the government. The Coalition then in opposition knew about it and therefore when they came into office could not claim to be taken off-guard.
Five years have elapsed since the discovery of oil and very little has been achieved in preparing for first oil. This is unacceptable preparation by the Coalition. From day one, they should have moved with greater alacrity.
First oil came on December 20 last year and Guyana had not yet found an agent to market its oil. Hurried arrangements had to be made to find a marketing agent. We know the mistakes, which can happen when things are hurried.
A local content policy has now been developed. This is after the Trinidadians and other foreigners have nailed most of the contracts, which were on offer to supply goods and services for the oil rigs operations. The gate is being shut long after the horse has bolted.
The local content policy is not worth the paper on which it is printed unless it has the backing of local content legislation. That may take another five years.
Things were allowed to drag on for too long. Guyana is now paying a heavy price for that lack of briskness in preparing for oil. Jan Mangal, in a bombshell interview with the Guyanese Critic, has pointed out some of the reasons he feels were responsible for the slothfulness.
But part of the reason too is the fact that Guyana had no experience in this type of industry. Many government officials were at sea as just where to start. To get around this, it was necessary to hire persons who had experience in helping countries, which were new to oil, to get started.
Guyana did hire someone with critical expertise and knowledge but from what is now being revealed, he faced resistance from within the government. Therefore, Guyana finds itself neck deep in the present mess in which it is in.
For one, the contract that was signed represents the worst oil deal ever. No other country has been so outwitted as Guyana has been. But the oil companies knew that there will be no public protests over the oil agreement because the country is divided politically.
The supporters of the APNU+AFC know that Guyana got shredded during the negotiations. An opinion poll conducted locally revealed that 80% of the population was displeased with the agreement. But the supporters of the APNU+AFC are not going to be critical of the agreement because they feel that it will cause their government to lose popularity and it does not matter whether they have to eat salt and rice or get ‘white mouth’, most would rather starve than see their government out of power.
People understand what is going on. But people are making political calculations rather than objective decisions. They would rather have a government, which is being robbed blind but is one which they support rather than a government which they do not support but which might do better.
It also happens on the other side of the fence. When the PPP/C was in power, their supporters turned a blind eye to what was taking place under their government. They said nothing because, for them, this would strengthen the opposition.
Exxon knows this and will exploit it to the hilt. Exxon is not unaware of the country’s political and ethnic divisions. They would have done their political risk analysis and would have been aware, that despite what they presented in front of the government, the people would not protest in the streets.
It has been left to a handful of individuals to carry the fight for Guyana. It has been left to Glenn Lall, Christoper Ram, Ramon Gaskin, Nigel Hinds and Melinda Janki to lead the resistance against this obnoxious contract.
All of them should be awarded national awards for what they have done and for standing up for Guyana. Yet, these persons will be treated as pariahs because they have dared been critical of the government’s handling of the situation. And that is the tragedy of Guyana.
People should not delude themselves into believing that the forthcoming elections are about issues. If it were about issues, the APNU+AFC would not stand a chance.
Issues will not determine the outcome of the elections. Numbers will and those numbers are based on the same old tribal politics, which has consumed another generation of our young people.
(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this newspaper.)
Apr 06, 2020By Zaheer Mohamed Port Kaituma Football Foundation (PKFF) is one of the leading sports organisations in Region One. The body was formed in 2009 with the aim of developing sports in the area. Its...
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