Kaieteur News deserves the Pulitzer Prize for journalism. No other newspaper in the history of the Caribbean has been in the forefront of exposing corruption and malfeasance in public office as this newspaper.
And yet what difference has it made? So long as one of the main political parties do not come on board and address the issue, it eventually exhausts itself. This is what both the PPP/C and the APNU+AFC are hoping for in relation to this newspaper’s exposure of the giveaway of the Canje and Kaieteur blocks.
They are not interested in demanding answers to the many questions which are swirling in the public domain. They are not interested because the PPP/C arranged the handing out of these two blocks while the APNU+AFC which has established a unit to recover state assets never did anything to recover these blocks in the five years they were in office. And the reason it did not do anything is because it did no better when it came to the agreement relating to the petroleum production licence for ExxonMobil.
While on the campaign trail, the PPP/C promised to renegotiate the agreements with ExxonMobil. It spoke about sanctity of contracts but then said it would seek a better deal. The better deal it sought is an utter disgrace. Bharrat Jagdeo had the temerity to defend that in a virtual press conference. It was pathetic display.
When it comes to the oil contracts, the PPP/C and the APNU+AFC are on the same page. They are not interested in renegotiating any proper agreement. They are settling for the crumbs which are being offered by Exxon. It is only mice which devour crumbs. Not men.
The private sector is a waste of time. It is not interested in demanding a better deal. It simply wants its share of business -something called local content. The local private sector has always been an opportunistic element, interested in being dependent on the droppings which fall from the government or to private negotiate benefits for itself. Since the former founder of the United Force left and went into exile in Barbados, the local private sector has been unable and unwilling to flex its muscles.
It is the same thing with civil society. It too lacks an interest unless one of the main political parties become involved and makes it a national issue.
If the PPP/C was not protesting the tampered results of the 2020 general and regional elections, there would have been no outcry against what took place. The private sector and civil society would not have had anything to say. Unless one of the two main parties make a noise out of an issue, the response is generally silence and indifference.
This is what is happening in relation to Guyana’s oil wealth. Both the PPP/C and the APNU+AFC are on the same page and therefore the rest of the country are not going to come out and demand that what has gone wrong be fixed. They are not doing that because they are caught up in the vicious political divide.
This would not have happened in any other part of the world. Nowhere else would we have a situation in which a government is accused of leaving U$55B at the negotiating table, a sum equivalent to hundreds of billions of dollars at the negotiating table – a sum which works out to G$15M to every single man, woman and child in this country. This is what Guyana threw away during its negotiations. And yet the party which did this got more than 45% of the votes cast at the general elections.
Do you know what a difference G$15 per person would have done? Right now persons are scampering for a G$25,000 COVID-19 relief grant. Imagine how happier they would be if a man with a wife and two children would have been able to receive a cheque for G$60M. But the people prefer to stay quiet so as to not offend their political masters. But they will complain bitterly about the prices in the market, the drains outside of their homes and their pot-holed streets without street lights.
(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do now necessarily reflect the opinions of this newspaper.)
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