Jul 25, 2022 Editorial
Kaieteur News – In case any Guyanese was worrying or wondering where the Government of Guyana stood on full coverage liability in the event of an oil spill, the wondering can stop now. In the simplest but most complete manner, the PPP/C Government is not onboard or in support of such full coverage liability. This was what surfaced when the matter came up for debate in the nation’s parliament. Twist it or turn it, this is the long and short of the issue: the PPP/C Government and its leaders are not for full coverage liability (“Govt. kills Motion for full coverage liability for oil spills” – KN July 23). Now that the wondering about where the Government stood is over, Guyanese can begin their worrying, with much to worry about.
The game was up before it started, with the cards marked a certain way, and only one outcome possible. The Speaker of the House had most grudgingly allowed the Motion presented to be visited with parliamentary ventilation and light. It took all of 154 days, almost a half of a year before the Motion was given the green light to proceed in parliament. Before that, he did some more preparatory work. What he didn’t scratch out, he scrapped it altogether, in clause after clause denied and discarded into the rubbish heap. A total of 13 out of 20 clauses were gone by the time he was done, while using his red pen like a scalpel.
Then to add insult on prior injury, the parliamentary officer who should be the best exemplary of independence and unbiased neutrality permitted a mere four hours under the cover of deepening darkness for an issue of such supreme importance to be debated. It is as if this was a minimal issue, or that the Speaker was fearful of prioritising it earlier in the day. Four hours for an issue that has the potential to devastate not just this country, but a whole host of countries in the region. Clearly, the fix was in, and this Motion, however well intended, was dead on arrival, which the PPP/C Government had already worked its usual magic behind closed doors to guarantee that it would be given the quickest kick out the door.
This is the sum of what a Guyanese-born Speaker, we remind all citizens of this country, presided over, who did his very best, and then some more, to gut the motion every step of the way. Like a vindictive teacher having heavy responsibility for the destiny of a student (not liked), there was the harshest, most unforgiving, scrutiny, with the intention that future prospects must die the most unnatural of deaths.
After that, it was all but over, with the Coalition Opposition recognising that the fight was lost, but still plugging along, if only for the record. For their part, PPPC Government MPs emphasised the cost of such insurance and that there has to be a cap somewhere, since unlimited could be unending in terms of dollar amount. One PPP/C MP was clever enough to articulate that the Opposition Motion was a waste of time. Another went to the extent of labeling unlimited coverage as going to the extremes and that there it is an impossibility to be too preoccupied with the unidentifiable.
What we have to say is that these PPP/C Government MPs have secretly surrendered the pride of country citizenship for the products of corporate citizenship, American style. When Guyanese can go to bat for foreigners like this, then what we have is neither government nor leadership nor patriotism, but cowardice and conspiracy.
There was never any interest in approaching this in a clean manner, or in a way that made people appreciate that justice was being done with something (full coverage liability) that could turn out to be the most costly and destructive force ever to visit this country. A severe oil spill has all the elements to inflict more damage on this country than natural forces, such as flood or hurricane or earthquake. The odds for those may be long here, while the odds for an oil spill, especially with a company like ExxonMobil at the helm of offshore operations, could be shorter than we think.
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