By Kiana Wilburg
When it comes to the effective management and development of oil and gas resources, nations across the world have made their fair share of mistakes while, in other instances, they managed to get a few things right.
Guyana’s CARICOM sister, Trinidad and Tobago, is one such example. The Twin-Island Republic made sure that its citizens were integrated to the maximum extent in its oil industry and they are well paid at all levels. On the flipside however, Trinidad failed to diversity its other industries. In fact, its dependence on oil ended up having a damaging effect on its economic growth year on year.
Taking this into account, British High Commissioner, Greg Quinn argues that it’s critical for Guyana’s leaders to take the good others in the industry have done with oil while paying close attention to their mistakes. The High Commissioner passed on this salient piece of advice during his first appearance on Kaieteur Radio’s Programme,’ Guyana’s Oil and You’.
Quinn said that when one reflects on where Guyana started with the discovery of oil, it was clear that those in the system were and still are “trying to find their feet.”
He continued, “…I think that this is one of the reasons why we worked so hard to link together Aberdeen for example with Georgetown but also with the broader administration here. But if you look at how we did oil and gas in the United Kingdom, it wasn’t always good. Let us be honest here, we did not manage our oil and gas in the North Sea as well as we would have liked to have done, in retrospect.”
The diplomat said that, notwithstanding, there are lessons, from places like Aberdeen and elsewhere around the world, of what has and has not worked, lessons that would be useful to Guyana.
He said, “…Certainly, I encourage as much as possible, those leaders, whether they be at a senior political level, at the business level, to sort of listen to what others have done. Take the good stuff but also take the bad stuff as well and try to ensure that you do not repeat the mistakes of others, like we have done.”
Further, the High Commissioner gave credence to the notion that good leadership will be key to Guyana’s success with oil. Part of good leadership, he opined, is the ability to admit when you do not know and seeking the relevant help in that area.
“I think any leader,” Quinn offered, “who says that they don’t need to learn anything, or think that they no longer need to learn anything does not display good leadership. A good leadership quality is accepting the fact that you never always know everything and there is always room to expand and to improve your abilities.”
Quinn said it will be critical for Guyana to make connections with other experienced oil producing nations so as to build capacity. He noted that every citizen has a role to play in ensuring the country continues in the right direction. One of the key ways citizens can play their role is by pointing out when things are good and when things are not that great the High Commissioner said, adding that this is where civil society, for example, comes into play.
The High Commissioner said that there are obviously going to be a lot of new points from citizens while noting that, in the end, any political leader or business leader is going to have to take the decision they think is best at the time. He stressed nonetheless that good leadership will ensure that citizens are heard. He said that the value of those opinions will get Guyana in the place it needs to be.
“Ultimately,” he stated, “all of this money that comes in from oil and gas has to be used in a way that benefits that man and woman in the street. So they also have a right to say, ‘This is not what you should be doing and this is what I think you should be doing’.”
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