Oct 11, 2020 Editorial
Kaieteur News – According to a Global Witness report, the APNU+AFC appears to have undermined serious efforts to reveal the true owners of the Canje and Kaieteur Oil Blocks. This confirms our unmoving beliefs that on our oil, the PPP and APNU+AFC are as one in holding the same head for handsome self-dealing, while cheating us and leaving us more mired in ugly poverty. They take the hog and leave for us what the hog leaves behind on the ground.
We have frontally challenged players from both sides of the political divide to simply reveal who these people are, considering that, as we have calculated, even the most conservative estimate of revenue over the next decade would make a single owner of either block a billionaire.
The logic here is simple – any political entity that is both competent and truly interested in protecting Guyana’s patrimony should be radical about transparency, whether it is in the Opposition or in the Executive. What we appear to have instead is complicity when it comes to the silence and obscurity surrounding the beneficial ownership of the oil blocks. Despite our campaign, despite our best efforts, we have been met with temporizing, dodging, empty promises and feigning of ignorance by people who otherwise try to sell themselves as the smartest minds in the room.
When it comes to the APNU+AFC, there is either the pretence that they were not in power over the past five years or a very selective amnesia when it comes to the specifics of beneficial ownership. For the PPP, there is the pretence that they were not in power when the awards were given or a convenient amnesia on the particulars of the deal. In both cases, politicians with otherwise apparently prodigious memory on the errors of their ‘rivals’ across the aisle are somehow forgetful on what specific measures they took to ensure transparency as well as what those rivals did to breach it.
Opacity with regard to the issue of beneficial ownership in the fledgling oil and gas sector is – unless it is explicitly proven otherwise – the most successful area of complicity, perhaps to the point of collusion, between the two political juggernauts in this country. This cannot stand.
We can put every other public accountability measure in place from this point going forward, including as Vice President Jagdeo has proposed stringent transparency laws on oil revenues, but unless it is that we have transparency on everyone who has an ownership stake in every existing oil block, those measures are not only locking the barn door after the horses have escaped, but leaving a back door in the barn for newborn foals to run through.
The Global Witness report tells the nation that the public squabbling and clashing of the PPP and APNU+AFC are a farce and a joke. Because privately, PPP and APNU+AFC leaders look out for one another, help one another, and protect one another when anything about Guyana’s oil is involved. Why would the coalition operate in this mysterious manner when it was in power, and not use the Canje and Kaieteur Oil Block awards to expose its political adversaries? Why did the coalition fight so strenuously during the elections to stay in power, but were so inexplicably weak, pathetic, and powerless when they had oil weapons in its hands to damage irreparably its political competitors? And why is the current opposition, the same APNU+AFC, saying absolutely nothing of substance on our oil and what the PPP did with it?
From every indication, a lucrative political crime partnership is already in existence. No political group, when in government, could be so incompetent, so unknowing, and so unmoving as the APNU+AFC to not want to bring down its supposedly sworn enemy with what would have destroyed. This is where we believe all the oil roads lead. Now, we put this before the Guyanese people with this in mind: how can it be any other way? Why not decide for yourself whether both the PPP and the APNU+AFC are not unified on our oil to rob us?
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