Aug 09, 2020 News Comments Off on The Inauguration Address
Kaieteur News congratulates President Irfaan Ali on his party’s victory in the recent elections and his ascension as Guyana’s 9th Executive President. We commend his resolve to address electoral corruption, put behind him the country’s historic divisions and be a leader for all Guyanese.
This publication looks forward to this much-needed quality of leadership. We stand ready to support his stated goals, where they involve the interests of all our people. We will do our part to ensure that he and his government do not stray from that path of always acting in the best interests of our people.
The President delivered all the right sound bites but missed the opportunity to better address the big-ticket issues. He spoke, most notably, of resuscitating sugar and “our traditional sectors” but failed to specifically address the key concerns in the oil and gas sector.
While the government’s concern for traditional sectors and the plight of workers therein are commendable, he must equally be mindful of the opportunities which flawed agreements have provided for predatory foreign investors to cart away billions of US dollars of our wealth while their countries dole out charity of a few millions in return.
The President pledged to ensure that every Guyanese benefits from the country’s oil resources. Unless, however, a country knows what it has, it would be unable to determine what it is losing. While promising to establish legal and regulatory mechanisms to account for every cent of oil revenues, the President avoided mentioning his party’s promise to renegotiate the oil agreements.
Nothing he said in fact demonstrated any concrete commitment to obtain a better deal for the country’s oil, an omission that would have pleased those foreign diplomats whose countries’ investors are involved in Guyana’s oil and gas sector.
On this score, the government’s economic thinking is akin to that of a beggar rather than a landlord. If we can obtain better terms for our natural resources, there will be no need for us to be seeking handouts from PAHO and other international organizations and governments. The country would have enough to attend to its needs and to lift the living standards of all its citizens. There is no reason, given our resources, why we cannot be as rich as Kuwait, Qatar, and Norway.
Guyana, therefore, must first and foremost strengthen its position in the oil and gas industry. President Ali had previously signaled this. This newspaper has assiduously advocated for it. Policies, laws, regulations and institutions must be put in place post-haste. Action must be taken to re-balance the oil agreements in Guyana’s favour. In the absence of any serious undertaking to seek more favorable terms in the oil sector, the President’s promise of economic transformation will become a hollow platitude. The new will sound much like the old.
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