Jun 09, 2021 Editorial
Kaieteur News – The government has settled for a rather clever strategy, which its leaders think are so sophisticated that the wool is pulled over the eyes of Guyanese. But no matter the thickness of the paper bags that the PPP government tries to place on the heads of citizens, they see through them. Citizens see the trickiness that is at work, and come to their own conclusions that all is not well, indeed, far from well.
What we at this publication have detected, is that the government has a certain standard behaviour on those things that they wish to be cagey about, be it about oil, governance, or a better Guyana in the future. What the PPP government and its leaders are doing is delivering information, but all the while pretending at consultation. The sum of it is best done this way and goes like this: this is it. Take it or leave it. In addition, regardless of how Guyanese respond, whatever they do, or they don’t do, the deed is as good as done. It is a done deal and long before it reaches a public that might be fooled to think that it counts and that it is being consulted.
Two recent examples of this come to mind. The first was a sharp looking and finely presented advertisement by Guyana’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the media on May 24. It was with respect to an application by the Exxon subsidiary, Esso Exploration and Production Guyana Limited (EEPGL), for clearance from the EPA to proceed with the “Yellowtail Development Project…in the Stabroek Licence Area, Offshore Guyana.”
In keeping with the Laws of Guyana and associated EPA rules and regulations, the public is notified via this advertisement that an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is required. According to the advertisement, interested “members of the public” have “28 days to make written submissions to the EPA, setting out those questions and matters which they request to be answered or considered in the EPA.” It is one of those long-awaited steps that a few have raised their voices to have. Well, it is here, in this instance, and we should be satisfied. There is a problem: we are neither comfortable nor content, and here is why.
In view of what now comes across as the unalterable leadership outlook on dealing with this oil wealth of ours, we are skeptical. We will take the bit in our teeth and go full throttle: we at this paper think that this is a ploy. That is, regardless of what the questions Guyanese may have, what the concerns of citizens are, and what the anxieties and fears of interested members of the local population, and as documented by them, the process in which the EPA will be engaged in is no more than a formality. At best, it is clerical, namely, receiving and acknowledging receipt of such communications from citizens; and administrative, in that they have been reviewed, but that nothing of merit or substance was found, which was persuasive enough to delay or withhold authorisation from Esso Guyana (EEPGL) going ahead and conducting its exploration and production business with the Yellowtail Project. At its worst, the whole EPA review and likely release process is a sham that is intended to mislead gullible Guyanese.
We regret saying this, but the facts bear us out, so we must the record of Exxon’s parent company and its subsidiary, Exxon Guyana, has been nothing but that of an entity that will get its way by any means necessary. If the requirement is that the formal and proformal have to be gone though, then it will be so, since the outcome is foregone. It becomes a matter of going through the motions for the sake of appearances.
The second issue of note was that of electoral reform, which confirmed beyond a doubt that whatever the government does, and calls consultation, is nothing more than information sharing, and that is where all roads lead and end. The outcry against the IRI-led involvement has been long and loud. Yet, on this most sensitive and crucial matter of national significance, the PPP government is barging full speed ahead, as though it has the whole of Guyana solidly behind it. When there should be pausing and listening, with adjusting following, there has been nothing of the kind. Any claims about consultation on anything of substance is more than a joke, it is a full out farce.
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