Jun 06, 2021 Editorial
Kaieteur News – How badly do you want it? The ‘you’ in that crucial question refers to Guyanese leaders, in fact, all of us Guyanese, as put to leaders and the nation by a recognised oil expert (“Guyana should have say in all oil companies’ spending – TT expert, Anthony Paul”, KN June 1). The underpinning of that question is how much it means to us to get things right, by doing it right, which means that we want to be involved every step of the way, and in every aspect of the oversight and operations of our oil wealth. There can be no other way, and that must be non-negotiable, part of our standing demand and way of life, if we are going to come anywhere close to obtaining something of significance from our oil and other natural resources gifts.
As Mr. Paul said, “…Going forward, Guyana can say ‘We want to participate in every single contract’.” This means that our authorised state entity would be fully immersed with incoming foreign investors, not as an observer, but to “operate as a partner…part of the approval process for work plans and budgets.” That makes for perfect sense, and it projects an empowered Guyanese presence and involvement in the high strategies and the nitty-gritty of the management of this oil, and other sectors. What we have had is disastrous on the mere face of it, and when there is drilling down, matters only become worse.
It is the position of this paper that, for too long and too feebly, our leaders have been content to be passive, and accept whatever trickle, whatever handout, whatever charity is given out to this country. What is even more insulting, and discouraging, is that some of our leaders take pride in telling citizens that they should be content with what has been finalised, because it is so good. If and when we think this cheap, possess minds that are this limited, then any brightly coloured baubles will do to keep us happy and quiet. It is why one foreign company after another has come here to exploit our riches, while taking advantage of us, but leaving us poorer when the hog of the nation’s wealth is continuously carted away.
Foreign owners and foreign shareholders are enriched, because the going is so good in Guyana. Because any heavily inflated costing is delivered to us as done deals, with Guyana being responsible for the billions in expenses. The bottom line of foreign corporations is sweetened, shareholders rejoice. We don’t know the substance or the accuracy of those hundreds of millions and billions in charges, because we are on the sidelines. We are uninvolved and, from all indications, our leaders are unconcerned. It is as if they can’t wait to absorb more of the financial poundings that come with the expenses and invoices, of which we have no clue.
It is why, therefore, we identify closely with what Trinidadian Anthony Paul strongly recommends. We must be involved in every aspect of the contract operations and fulfillment, from the beginning and planning and work programmes. Only then, would Guyana be in a position to sign off on plans, what is said that we owe, what is our portion of the expenses, the discoveries, and all of what was really involved in the exploration and production and budgeting (and real money story) for this oil and gold and the rest.
But there is another side to the question we posed in the caption and very first sentence of this writing. To refresh, the question is: how badly do you want it? That is, with pointed reference to, and meaning for, our leaders. We take it to another place and ask the same question: how badly do you want it? In this instance, the ‘you’ means the foreign companies rushing to invest here in the brightest mecca (and investment play) on the planet. Those who hem and haw should be scratched immediately, as not being serious, not having what it takes, not meeting the money and net minimums that we have in mind.
This truth must be faced: For every foreign company interested in being a part of Guyana’s investment horizon and national consideration, but not ready to deal on our terms (as full-fledged partners). There are a dozen, if not a score, of other foreign entities that would give their right arm to sit across the table from us, listen to us, and work with us to carve out what is beneficial to both sides. That is yet to happen, because our leaders have caved in and compromised the prospects of this nation, by not driving the hard bargains that say this: do it our way, or don’t come here.
Our leaders have to have the will. They must be ready to deal strongly with foreigners, and then deal straight with Guyanese. They have not done so. And at the end of it all, matters come back to this: how badly do you want it? Meaning, both our leaders and those from the outside who come to explore and prosper.
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