Jul 23, 2021 Editorial
Kaieteur News – The latest is that another report concerning Exxon is being ducked by the PPP Government. First, it was the report on the review of the proposed Payara undertaking, and the latest one is the audit report on the pre-contract costs submitted by Exxon (“Audit of ExxonMobil’s US$460M pre-contract costs an abomination – Govt. should make report public – source” : KN July 22). The government has little interest in making anything public with what is happening in the oil sector, which this withheld audit report confirms.
What the PPP government and its oil chief are focused on, and very skilled (at least they think so), is to make public only those things, which have been studied closely beforehand for any exposures to both the government and Exxon, and when there is none, then the developments, as documented, are placed before the Guyanese public. On the other hand, when the conclusion within the inner circle of the government’s brain trust, and that of its top oil spokesperson, the Vice President, is that there is the likelihood of controversy and a can of worms being opened, then government and oilman seek shelter in the shadows. Documents that reveal much stay hidden, developments that leave them flatfooted and mean much embarrassment remain out of sight, with not a single word being said about what those documents/reports contain, or that they even exist. Everything that is wrong, and that could be a problem, with this nation’s oil never sees the light of day, no matter how much any local citizen or group, or any international watchdog agency, protests.
Guyana’s Vice President, who can be very plentiful with well-chosen words and postures that he feels make him look good, is very quick on the draw when the circumstances so favour his visions, calculations, and plans. There is, however, this mysterious and dogged resistance and disappearance, on his part and that of the entire well-oiled and smoothly functioning government Public Relations apparatus, when the news, whether from developments, or as incorporated into costly official reports, speak to what would be considered negative, and seriously so. Then there is this strange song and dance.
The Vice President rapidly vanishes into the woodwork, when the news is negative. As we stated in the article referenced above, it is more than negative and horrendously so. The audit report for G$62M plus is so terrible that one source in the know described it as an “abomination.” As descriptions go, there are few that can convey how bad things are, from the review of what has done with that billing of US$460M of pre-contract costs. We believe that we have the math right when we use that sum in US dollars to arrive at a staggering pre-contract tab of over G$92B.
But yet this country and all of its citizens, to whom this oil wealth belongs, are all in the dark, and deliberately kept there by government and its oil czar, the Vice President. What is there to hide? Why is that not the business of the Guyanese people? How long will this kind of leadership ugliness, if not outright failure at principled oversight of this oil, be allowed to be practiced to this extent, to take wing? As the source reasonably asked, as presented by us, “If these reports are not made public, how else will the Guyanese people know that the company selected for these audits did their job, and gave the country value for money?” And “How else will the public be able to have confidence that the government can be trusted to be a prudent overseer?” We don’t. We live in ignorance as to value for money and any trust in government that was there before is long gone, and with good reason.
For the behaviour of our leaders in this current government, and the previous one, with this oil, has been, almost without fail, a stream of repugnance. It is of what is devastating to the hopes of Guyanese, their dreams long cherished, and which looks poised to end up in the drain, like so many other things here that held out bright prospects, but turned out to be yokes around our necks.
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