Sep 06, 2022 Editorial
Kaieteur News – Guyana needs an authoritative and credible Petroleum Commission now, not some hazy time in the future, but now. Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo was all in warm agreement two years ago about the need for and place of a Petroleum Commission. Two years later he is still of the same helpful, cooperative mind. But while he has been all good cheer and smiling support for a Petroleum Commission, this country is still in the same place. That is, Guyana still does not have any kind of Petroleum Commission to play a meaningful role in our oil industry.
The man in charge of Guyana’s oil business is dragging his feet. Dr. Jagdeo is an unconvincing picture of unsteadiness and uneasiness over the establishment of a Petroleum Commission that could stand on its own feet, make its own judgments, and make a difference. An independent, fully functioning Petroleum Commission, as based on empowering legislation, could carve out its own sweeping space for what goes beyond regulatory oversight. It could serve as an analyst, a reviewer, and a forecaster, and an influential advisor to the Government. It also could be a buffer and check and balance on the absolute power over this oil of any minister, or the excesses of other politicians.
There are many aspects of this (and more) in the equivalent national petroleum bodies in Ghana and Norway, which could be blueprints for Guyana, if leaders in the PPP/C Government really want to have a Petroleum Commission of standing and vast reach. So, when we hear Vice President Jagdeo dawdling and slipping his way around the presence of a Petroleum Commission, no good feeling surfaces, and there is a sense of ‘not again.’ This is driven by his past record of failing to deliver, or delaying, on things that could definitely benefit this country. The absence of a vibrant Petroleum Commission just does not make sense, and raises all manner of speculation as to what he is really up to….
We think that any wise Political Leader, any Politician with protective national instincts, would be enthusiastic about the idea of, and driven to, establishing a Petroleum Commission. This is what should have been, a must, from the first announcements of oil discoveries offshore, with a genuine search for the right people beginning from those early days. This puts people of quality and integrity in charge of Guyana’s oil promise, not Politicians who have a history wherever oil has been found, of helping themselves to its riches and benefits at the expense of hopeful citizens. A Petroleum Commission means a layer of oversight and fulfilling roles currently missing and which we must have. Once again, we point to the far reaching Ghana and Norway models.
We think that Dr. Jagdeo knows about all of this, which is why he has not dared to object, but still slips and slides around one being around. We are interested in giving Dr. Jagdeo the benefit of the doubt, but he makes it difficult for us. He does so whenever he bobs and weaves, and leaves us with little confidence in his frail posturing. When a Petroleum Commission could introduce some sanity and authority around our oil sector, he is stonewalling, and sniffing the air (like some cunning fox) to detect where danger lies.
Why is he hesitant? Why is there this delay of two years and counting? Every day that there is no Commission in place means too much political management of the oil sector. It is revealing that the Vice President could justify ramping up production for many reasons, yet is so slothful on a Petroleum Commission of substance. As the push for a strong Petroleum Commission builds, there is the likelihood that we could end up with another entity that is the twin brother of Guyana’s toothless Environmental Protection Agency. Meaning that any Petroleum Commission finalised by Vice President Jagdeo would be a newborn puppy that is sightless and helpless, and one that is unable to stand on its own feet. With the right people, Guyanese of calibre and integrity, much progress could be achieved in how we oversee our expanding oil sector. We need an independent and potent Petroleum Commission, and we need it yesterday.
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