Jul 31, 2022 News
“Our enslaved and indentured forefathers would be turning in their graves at what ‘our own’ is doing to ‘our own’. Not only have we taken from the plate of every Guyanese living presently, not only have we robbed the graves of our forefathers but we have also robbed the cradle, removing financial security from our children’s future so that the current lot can have a good life.”- Dr. Yog Mahadeo
By Davina Bagot
Kaieteur News – Guyanese across the miles have been complaining about the rising cost of living, struggling to make ends meet, while oil companies operating in Guyana boast to the world of their multibillion profits raked in over a three-month period.
One of the founding members of the civil society group, Article 13, Dr. Yog Mahadeo in an exclusive interview with Kaieteur News on Saturday lamented the fact that both the government and Opposition have publicly said they will not renegotiate the oil contract, however, in the absence of key provisions such as ring-fencing, he believes that the suffering of Guyanese will only continue.
He explained, “The oil companies continue to record significant profits, and we continue to record huge debts while worshipping the same contract. We cannot advance as a country without a renegotiated contract. Without ring fencing, what profit oil?”
The ring-fencing provision is a key clause that is used in oil contracts especially to avoid the operators from spending on projects and billing it to a specific development. For instance, it would mean that ExxonMobil will not be allowed to expend resources on its third project- Payara – and withdraw its investment from the current producing Liza One field.
This clause would not only ensure Guyana gets a bigger share of profit, but could also safeguard the country from possible exploitation.
Only on Friday ExxonMobil Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Darren Woods, during the company’s earnings call, said it unlocked some US$17.9 billion in profits during the second quarter of the year alone. It was revealed that Guyana’s vast oil resources played a major role in the company realising such revenue.
Similarly, Hess Corporation, a 30 percent partner in the Stabroek Block, reported some US$667 million in profits for the second quarter alone. Although the revenue raked in by the two international oil and gas companies were not bound to Guyana shores, they both hinged their success on Guyana’s golden basin.
But while those companies boast on their increased earnings from extracting Guyana’s oil, the people of Guyana continue “to live on crumbs,” Dr. Mahadeo added.
He said, “The oil companies hoodwinked the David Granger-led Government and then placed golden handcuffs on the current administration. We would recall that while in opposition, (Vice President Bharrat) Jagdeo and (President Irfaan) Ali promised to revisit and renegotiate the contract, they lied! Guyana is now their oil company’s flagship! Their cash cow! We have friends like never before, all providing armour to protect the contract.”
To this end, the activist noted that while Exxon and Hess can report their significant windfall to their shareholders, our politicians “who live the good life, fly off to visit countries and governments, paying huge lobbying contracts to open the doors to congressional and other offices and live off the fat of a paper royalty and profit oil.”
At the same time, the member of the civil society body reasoned that local “cheerleading economists” and “financial wizards” continue to uphold the contract as if it were a holy book.
“Our enslaved and indentured forefathers would be turning in their graves at what ‘our own’ is doing to ‘our own’. Not only have we taken from the plate of every Guyanese living presently, not only have we robbed the graves of our forefathers but we have also robbed the cradle, removing financial security from our children’s future so that the current lot can have a good life,” he posited.
Dr. Mahadeo noted too that no one begrudges a fair return on investment, while adding that the investment would not be there without the natural resource. As such, he reminded that even the “cheerleading experts” have accepted that the contract is lopsided, yet they insist on convincing Guyanese that, “we are getting a good deal.”
“Most of them decried this same contract when APNU was in power. Now they embrace it. They enjoy the good life, flying on our roads and airspaces, flying here and there, while the true Guyanese must continue to grovel in muck that is left behind – a handout here, a hamper there,” he related.
Today, Dr. Mahadeo noted, Guyanese are left with a contract fiercely guarded by the President and VP, which stipulates that Guyana must “pay” the oil companies’ taxes, in addition to “experts” who argue Guyana is getting and will get over 50 percent profit oil. To this end, he pointed out that more wells are equivalent to more costs, more offset taxes, more uninsured risks and more environmental damage.
According to him, “The stark reality is that the defenders of the contract protect their self-interest. They sleep well at night because the oil contract is their pillow. Whereas APNU’s members defend the contract to save their shameful faces, but the current Government is protecting its good life.”
Even as he observed that “Yes, Guyana got crumbs from oil from which the politicians will take the first bite off those crumbs for the good life,” Dr. Mahadeo noted that “ the middle-men and the numerous ‘Sues’ get the next bite. From the dust that remains, the rest of us will line up for handouts in exchange for votes and souls. We cannot advance as a country without a renegotiated contract. Put the contract on the table for Guyana’s sake.”
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