May 12, 2022 Editorial
Kaieteur News – Guyana’s sons and daughters should be readying to live like Princes and Princesses of Wales, but there is a growing forlorn conclusion, that it will not be so. This is regardless of whether they reside around the Wales termination point of Exxon’s and the PPP/C Government’s much-touted gas-to-shore project, or elsewhere. Instead of the Wales area residents (and all Guyanese) anticipating and singing like the man from Wales about the “Green, green grass of home”, it seems that their fate would be more like that other daughter from the same UK-centred Wales, Shirley Bassey, forced to wail “I (who have nothing)”.
For here it is that locals are asking for only what is reasonable. They ask for some time to go through the voluminous documents related to this more than a billion gas-to-shore political dream that could turn out to be a nightmare for Guyanese, another pipe dream of crooked leaders, who conceal significant issues related to this project from them. Cunning political leaders in the PPP/C Government emphasise the upside of the project, while cleverly keeping the downsides of what the project could actually represent for Guyanese.
By any standard, any wise practice, it makes for sound sense to have a financial feasibility study on the project done by independent and credible people. It is better still to share the report of such a study, when expertly and trustworthily completed, with all Guyanese desirous of familiarising themselves with its positives and negatives. This is not on the cards, given the stubborn reactions of local political leaders overseeing our oil business, and piloting this much-talked about, much-disputed gas-to-shore project. As we have said before, if it is so loaded with benefits for Guyana, then let all Guyanese be privy to all that is involved with this billion-dollar plus project.
But Guyanese can’t get that, and some of the people of the Wales community, who will be directly impacted by the project, also can’t get what they have asked for, the little consideration that is resolutely denied them. In the communications of attorney Elizabeth Hughes, seeking a pause to public consultations, America’s oil juggernaut has played hardball and refused to listen to the pleas made (KN May 9). All they are asking for is some more time to go through the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) submitted by Exxon, after which the public engagements could start. Instead of engaging Guyanese on a satisfactory platform, Exxon chose to dig in its heels and put up a wall: it will proceed with the planned public consultations.
We, at this paper, are trying hard to understand why there is this rush, this determined resistance. The EIA is over 1400 pages in length, and is sure to contain a highly technical and dense narrative, well-supported by graphs, charts, and tables. This would be rough going at the equivalent of over 20 pages of heavy material a day in the time allocated. It is not like going through a novel or a newspaper, which makes the call for time reasonable and understandable, if not sensible.
Farmers and others in the Wales, Canal, and Crane communities are concerned about initial developments that are going to impact and impair their way of living. They know that there is going to be this billion-dollar project coming to their neighbourhood, but beyond that, little else has been shared with them by the people they elected to office, or government officials; secrecy that keeps them in the dark is what prevails (KN May 10). In the circumstances, it is accurate to say that nobody has had the time of day for them, and the attitude has been more of ‘take it or leave it’ for it is a done deal, regardless of what any Guyanese say.
We would argue that what is happening in Wales with gas-to-shore is representative of the norm in Guyana, since oil has announced its gigantic presence locally. Secrecy flourishes, leadership honesty is dead, transparency buried. How are Guyanese going to know about, benefit from, this oil wealth? Why have leaders in the PPP/C Government made it their duty, a national industry, to be about deep, thick secrecy with this oil? Which ones are benefiting unimaginably, criminally?
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