Jul 11, 2021 Editorial
Kaieteur News – “Govt. must set itself apart from financial skullduggery by Stabroek Block partners – install competent people to regulate sector – Chris Ram” (KN July 5). We agree wholeheartedly with that call by Mr. Ram, Chartered Accountant and attorney.
Mr. Ram has reviewed the 2020 financial statements submitted by Exxon, Hess, and CNOOC Petroleum pertaining to their Guyana operations. He does not like what he sees, and which he noted as having “serious deficiencies.” According to Mr. Ram, this does “leave Guyana at risk of wanton abuse and manipulation.”
Clearly, this was already at work in those 2020 financial statements of Exxon and partners relative to Guyana. It was as if the partners’ position with those deficient documents was ‘take that, it is what it is, don’t bother us, and move on.’ Except that Guyana cannot move on when the “financial shenanigans being perpetuated by the companies” rob us blind. Guyana cannot move on slavishly, and the Guyana Government cannot stay quiet while the “Stabroek Block partners do not disclose sufficient detail of how they are accounting for the use of money from the Liza Phase One Project.” In addition, while, just as tellingly “some of the expenses are being charged against the project which are completely unrelated to it.”
Mr. Ram is a Chartered Accountant of long and substantial standing. He knows what he is talking about. In addition, we at this paper do not have to be accountants to know when others are trying to put a paper bag over our heads, by rearranging figures, withholding material details, or trying to pull a fast one, many of them. For, no matter how examined, this is what can be concluded from how the Stabroek Block partners are working diligently and smartly to cheat us.
Think about this fellow citizens. It is as if a contractor hired for a job brings a bill and all it has is so much for wood, so much for cement and sand, and so much for a slew of other materials and expenses. There are bulk numbers, with little detail that leaves much to be desired, since they lack clarity. Worse still, it is as if that crooked, now discovered untrustworthy, contractor crudely presents what is suspected to be expenses from other projects in which his group is engaged. In other words, payment is demanded and expected for costs that do not belong.
Ordinary and watchful citizens do not need ACCA or CPA (accounting) qualifications to sense that, or know when such financial shenanigans are at work. Because of what Exxon and partners were bold enough to drop on this country (and got exposed), they cannot be trusted. The Guyana Government is under sharp suspicion and ongoing scrutiny for how it is covering up for the Exxon partners, how long it is going to do so, and when there will be some interest and inclination to do three things.
First, and as urgently, the call by Mr. Ram, “to introduce modern petroleum laws,” second to “appoint independent and competent regulators,” and third to “ensure that our laws are respected.” These three non-negotiable components go hand in hand and can lead to much beneficial changes for this country and its hopeful citizens. We agree on all three counts and with qualifications of our own thrown in for good measure.
Any modernisation of Guyana’s petroleum laws must be deep and vast and thorough; and such enhancements must involve respected experts, after honest consultations. This must in no way involve any people, who may have had relationships, however indirectly, with Exxon and its cabal of conspirators. Next, and this is arguably even more relevant and mandatory, independent and competent regulators must be put in place by government, which must take itself out of the mix. To be frank, we do not see leaders of this government responding favourably to such urgings, but rather putting party loyalists and proven hacks under the pretense of competence and independence. Only if we get bona fide people overseeing those laws and full compliance can there be some assurance that we will get what is due to us. It would be great if government listens and let this be. As said before, we are not optimistic.
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