– But UK Consultant removed them from Local Content Policy
By Kiana Wilburg
When Trinidadian Energy Expert, Anthony Paul, was hired to produce a Local Content Policy for Guyana, he never included in his two drafts, confidentiality provisions.
In doing so, it would have prevented citizens from knowing the details of efforts made by oil companies and their sub-contractors to use and develop local goods, services and skills.
But those provisions which were not part of the policy to begin with, are now part and parcel of Guyana’s final policy.
In the document that received its finishing touches from an ExxonMobil contact, Dr. Michael Warner, it says that confidentiality stipulations are necessary since “legal constraints” inhibit full disclosure.
What strikes as strange, however, is that Paul, who was commissioned in 2016 by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to do a state of readiness report on Guyana, noted that he had reviewed the Constitution, all relevant laws, contracts and treaties for the said task.
It therefore means that Paul would have been in the best position to know if confidentiality provisions were needed in Guyana’s policy. Yet, he did not include it. So was there something that he missed?
To answer this crucial question, Kaieteur News made contact with Paul yesterday. From all indications, it was clear that the Energy Strategist was diligent in identifying, anticipating and mitigating the risks involved in derailing the intent, goals and objectives of the policy, one of which was full transparency.
In fact, Paul said he was aware of the desire for such provisions to be part of the policy but was keen to remind of a most important point which is documented in the second draft of the policy.
Page 16 of that document says, “In administering the sector, the Government of Guyana must ensure that activities are consistent with provisions of the Constitution and Laws of Guyana, as well as our obligations to our people, investors and the international community, always keeping in mind that the best interests of the people of Guyana are paramount.”
Paul said that by including this paragraph in the draft policy, he was essentially giving Guyana the power to do what is best for its people.
Of significance is the fact that the said paragraph was removed from the final Local Content Policy.
Upon perusing the draft policy, Kaieteur News also found another provision Paul had included to ensure there is maximum reporting on local content so that stakeholders can be held accountable.
Page five of the document says, “Articulate a mechanism that provides assurance that the goals and objectives of these policies are pursued and reported on by stakeholders in a manner: a. That allows for flexibility to respond to changing circumstances, (b.) by which achievements can be measured and tracked and (c.) by which stakeholders can be held accountable for delivering on their roles.” This too was removed from the final policy document.
It therefore means that the new version of Guyana’s Local Content Policy removes provisions which protect the right of the people to full transparency and replaces them with those that demand secrecy.
Dr. Warner was able to do this with the blessings of the World Bank and the Energy Department.
It was the legendary Thomas Woodrow Wilson, the 28th President of the United States who always said, “Everybody knows that corruption thrives in secret places…”
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