Mar 07, 2021 News
– little said about oil, more on 2020 elections
Kaieteur News – Last Friday, the House Committee of Supply approved the $353.8 billion national budget –the largest budget the country has ever passed. It was said that these billions of dollars would catapult the country’s economic recovery, and improve the performance of critical sectors that were severely affected by COVID-19 shockwaves.
Being the largest budget Guyana has ever seen, Kaieteur News had high expectations for the National Assembly, during the five days of debates (February 22-March 1), to comprehensively address how the government will prudently manage Guyana’s lucrative oil and gas sector.
However, what Kaieteur News witnessed in the dome of the Arthur Chung Conference Centre (ACCC) during those five days were the 65 Members of Parliament (MPs) allocating significant time to recall the events of the protracted March 2020 elections. This was done in the absence of how it intends to manage the oil and gas sector.
The only three MPs who had allocated time in their presentations to address this sector, was the Minister of Natural Resources, Vickram Bharrat; Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall; and Opposition Shadow Oil and Gas Minister, David Patterson.
Bharrat, during his presentation, sought to upbraid the former coalition administration for their “poor management” of Guyana and its resources. But he was quick to bring up and be extensive about the details and events of the March 2020 elections, in which the APNU+AFC failed at rigging.
When he turned to the subsection of the oil and gas sector, the Natural Resource Minister incorrectly stated to the assembly that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), under the coalition, had approved a 14 billion flaring cap for ExxonMobil. This 14 billion cap was recently debunked by Exxon itself. Notwithstanding this, Bharrat indicated that the People’s Progressive Party/ Civic (PPP/C) government will nurture the sector in collaboration with its investment partners to ensure that it benefits from the sector.
The Minister also spoke very briefly on the Local Content consultations that are currently ongoing; the PPP/C intentions to embark on the gas-to-shore project; as well as its intentions to correct the flaws in the Liza One Permit. This permit is set for renewal next.
Being the chief law man of the country, Kaieteur News had expected AG Nandlall to highlight key measures the government intends to take to reform the decades-old oil and gas legislation. However, when the AG spoke on this sector, all he indicated was the government’s intention to retain the international consultant to draft legislation for the petroleum sector.
Meanwhile, Opposition MP Patterson criticized the PPP/C government for allowing Exxon to flare, despite the fact that this allowance was granted by the former administration. He even criticized the government on the decision to land the gas-to-shore plant at Wales.
He emphasized, however, that the coalition willingness and support “on presenting a united position so that jointly we can address the alleged inadequacies in the Contract and any other documents including the Environmental Permits.”
Notably, the other 63 MPs from both government and opposition sides said very little, and in some cases nothing at all, on how the government should manage this sector—which, if managed at best, could transform the lives of all Guyanese and generations to come.
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