Jul 27, 2021 Editorial
Kaieteur News – Not a day passes without citizens of this country being presented by this paper of how bent our leaders are in doing wrong with the nation’s oil wealth. One story revealed by us may have slipped under the radar of attention, but we retrieve it and place it right before the eyes of our readers. The title of the news article was “Current structure of Guyana’s NRF likely to encourage political meddling and limit independent accountability” (KN July 23). It has to do with this government’s thinking and leaning, even still unannounced, but settled, determination, on adopting the Kazakhstan model for our own National Resource Fund (NRF). Any such thinking that may be stirring and choice, should it come about, is wrong once, wrong twice, wrong each and on every occasion harboured.
Guyana should not go anywhere near the Kazakhstan model for its NRF. It is one of those nation-states that finally came to independence in 1991 following the breakup of the old Soviet Union. Guyana could be considered its ‘big brother’ by a quarter century. More importantly, the states that came to be conveniently grouped under the more easily enunciated label of ‘stans’ have much going for them, compliments of their Caspian Basin. Some of those new societies, if not almost all of them, have been noteworthy for being controlled, virtually owned, by powerful oil and political oligarchs, with little to separate the two sets of dominant players. Corruption and cronyism, and endless leadership criminality and political skullduggeries, have all come to feature highly in the oversight and operation of those countries (‘stans’) oil and Natural gas resources, among other riches.
So why would Guyana, through powerful leaders in the present PPP government, would want to have any model from such a country for its own NRF? Why would any political leader with clean visions and clean hands even want to think of, then go anywhere near to, the NRF model of a country like Kazakhstan? That is, if they desire to do right by this oil that Guyana keeps finding?
We ask these sharp, relevant questions, because according to the position taken by Mr. Arthur Deakin, Co-Director at America’s Market Intelligence Practice, “Guyana’s current government should change direction and should steer towards adopting an NRF that mirrors Norway, and not Kazakhstan” (KN July 23). It should be so because the “Scandinavian model would be the ideal to serve as the basis for the [local] fund.” And because it facilitates “modifying allowances for a greater percentage of revenues to be transferred to the budget for…infrastructural development.” And because, “regardless of the political party in power, having the “right fiscal and regulatory framework” embedded in the nation’s NRF could lead to the right results in every area for all peoples of this rich, but hopelessly misled, society.
It is enlightening that during what may be insisted to be one of the biggest storms in this country’s history, an existential one at times, Guyana did not look for any aid, any guiding hand or any overarching guiding principles from a place like Kazakhstan. To cut to the sharpest point, PPP leaders then in opposition reached to the A and B and C and E countries for help and wisdom. As any Guyanese knows, those were American and Canadian in North America and British and those other countries that have been mainly capitalist oriented in Western Europe. For emphasis, PPP leaders did not even think of seeking a helping hand from the likes of Kazakhstan. Come to think of it, they did not have much to do even with Mother Russia. So why are they thinking of having an all-important NRF based on that of Kazakhstan?
To answer our own questions, we share our hard misgivings about where such thinking of PPP leaders is based upon, and leads. Kazakhstan’s NRF does not foster transparency. Kazakhstan’s Management Council that drives spending includes its top political leaders. Oil means money, which means much spending, which means Guyanese should not want crooked politicians around such money and spending, without transparency and accountability. It should be clear now why Kazakhstan comes up in PPP leaders’ conversations, and not Norway. It is because skullduggeries are in motion.
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