Jan 13, 2021 Letters
Kaieteur News – Reference is made to the article titled, “Legislative reform for oil and gas sector won’t be done in isolation – Attorney General” (KN January 11). A few thoughts and observations are shared.
The new PPP government has rebranded itself: the marketing is sweeping and powerful. Listen carefully and something becomes obvious: the party’s leading lights all say the right thing, those things that comfort, even delight, which is admirable; but then there is reality. It has been this way from the level of His Excellency, the Hon. Vice President, and now the Hon. Attorney General of the land. There are others who follow their lead. They talk a good game, for they have learned that words are cheap and have no meaning, other than in the moment, and then it is off to the usual hijinks behind the scenes.
The president likes to talk about transparency, but examine the record and there it is: the only things on which he has been transparent about are those that he has left alone, those that he does not go near to, that he avoids like the pandemic. How about a few disclosures, Mr. President on the things promised by self and comrades? Like reports withheld? Like regulations that have been quietly removed under watch? As for the real number one, the Hon. Vice President, he talks up a storm, but they are all fillings but, unlike the dental ones, there is no pain, only anticipation which falls flat. Because on the issues that matter, that are sensitive and timely, the Hon. Vice President is anything but. He is silent, he is communicating with the spirit world for guidance, and he is the perfect example of those with something to shade. I would say that those are things that the Guyanese people ought to know, and yesterday. Just not when the political potentates feel that they should throw them a holiday morsel of information. Like I said, these fine fellows have retraced their steps, analyzed their communications errors, and now present Guyana with their rehabilitated images and messages. There is not a word out of place. If the PPP government was a public relations firm, it would be unbeatable and collect all the business.
And that is what the Hon. Attorney General did when he went on air, and he artfully gave Guyanese the business. That would be of sweet, soothing words that lead in a certain direction. The honourable one is reported to have said many things in that radio interview, such as modernizing oil and gas sector legislation to protect the environment, advance local content policy imperatives, and ensure that the sector is managed by technocrats and not politicians. Not only is that more than a mouthful, but it is also all utterly delicious, as the wise man (in Guyana, we call them ‘smaaatmaaan’), intended it to be. There is nothing over which to take issue with the big one, since he has crossed the tees and dotted the eyes. From my perspective, though, the learned Attorney General just juk Guyanese in the eye.
I tender this, because on the environment, Exxon is free to do as it pleases (and it does); on the EPA, it is somewhere around (except it is largely meaningless in the rush of events); and on this slick one slid over Guyanese about ‘technocrats and not politicians to run the sector, I quickly detected the legal, ah, luminary, trying to pull a fast one. Undoubtedly, there will be technocrats, but whose and of what caliber, may I ask? To ask and answer, they will be handpicked and of a certain oil and gas outlook, as properly determined, taught and inculcated, so that there are no missteps, there are no mavericks to rock any boats, and there are no independents talking out of turn and taking matters into their own hands. They will be of what we have now at the EPA and other places, where men and women are in lockstep with political thinking and political objectives. Perhaps, I should be more specific and say those that are exclusive to that of His Oil Majesty, the VP. Sure, the technocrats will be there, but with their standing orders and canned scripts, and history afterwards. Hold me accountable (the president should follow suit) on this one.
It would have been helpful to hear from the AG of civil society (not the craven private sector) involvement. And while I am it, some ordinary people – poor, cross sectional, and excited – to be part of that eclectic oil and gas mix. In fairness to the AG, he did take shelter under that all-purpose camouflage of “it’s a work in progress.” Well done, sir. To my fellow Guyanese, I say good luck with this golden goose; with some luck, it would not be theirs that is roasted to a crisp.
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