Sep 12, 2021 Editorial
Kaieteur News – Exxon is now seeking five acres of land for a riverside facility on the West Bank of Demerara (KN September 7). In the name of progress that could be, on the surface of it, a good thing for Guyana. But when we consider the overall current and long-term prosperity of Guyanese, we have to swallow hard, and think again. Because the more Exxon expands its Guyanese operations, the more Guyana contracts in terms of its expectations of what should come for citizens.
When looked at unquestioningly and unwisely, a riverside facility for Exxon could mean a lot for needy Guyanese. But when has it been so for the citizens of this country, since Exxon arrived here? Everything that this global juggernaut of a company has demanded, it has received. Everything it has done has been approved by this new PPP Government and the prior Coalition one. The more Exxon demands, the more it gets, and the more it gets away with, when underlying circumstances are examined.
Exxon wants oil reports with national significance withheld and buried, and they are hidden from the sight of Guyanese. Exxon dumps a truckload of garbage on Guyana and call them spending reports and local content reports, and the leaders in today’s PPP Government suck all up without query or pushback. Worse still, Exxon and its lackeys, our national leaders in both the government and opposition, try to get us to do the exact same thing. That is, accept at face value, whatever Exxon reports that it spent in the billions, and which Guyanese have to pay.
It has been the same hazy, tricky stories all over, wherever Exxon’s footprint announces its presence or interest. The local EPA stands as an insult to all Guyanese, because Exxon desire that it be so, and PPP leaders have walked on a bed of hot coals to make it so. Meaning, powerless and useless in standing up for Guyanese. To do so, would mean getting in the way of Exxon, and interfering with its expansion plans. In this respect, Guyana’s EPA is now a virtual factory churning out one ‘No Objection’ position after another in favour of Exxon’s interests. The EPA is a 24/7 operation, and functions as a full-fledged Guyana-based subsidiary of Exxon.
Now, Exxon is looking for five acres of land. Without a doubt, that is land not in some off the track location, but a prime and well-situated parcel that gives the company the space to spread its wings, and get ready to pounce on other prized Guyanese possessions on which it has set its greedy eyes. As Exxon grows in bulk in this country, with more land, more holdings, more activity, this country shrinks. Like the poor man in the Bible, with just one lamb treasured by his child, which was taken away from his family by his rich and powerful neighbour, it is the same modus operandi in this country, with Exxon grabbing everything that catches the rapacious affections of its incredibly rapacious leaders.
It is called strategic planning, and enhancing the portfolio of Guyanese assets. Exxon looks good before its investors when it succeeds in doing so. In contrast, Guyanese look more anemic and crablike by the day, as Exxon and crooked local political leaders (private sector ones, too) and reduced to pulling down one another, stomping on each other, and then climbing on the backs of the weaker and slower. Is this not what Exxon has been doing? Is this not how Guyanese look before the world, as we shrivel daily, when we should be the picture of glowing promise, thanks to our fabulous oil wealth?
How much better for Exxon to demonstrate that it is a partner, not a predator. Instead of calling for expressions of interest to create a channel that clears (dredges) proposed main shipping lane, and pass the bill to Guyana, it would be much more meaningful for Exxon to dredge the entire Demerara River and maintain it in that state, out of its Guyana profits. Now, that would be a sign of a true partner that can be trusted. Not one that is of its self-interest and self-enriching only. Not one that as it expands crushes the prospects of Guyanese.
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