Sep 16, 2022 Editorial
Kaieteur News – “We will ensure that we have better contract administration. If we fail to have better contract administration and there was no room for that then we’ll take a harder line.” Those were some of the remarkable words of Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo during an interview with this paper’s Publisher, Glenn Lall, last Tuesday. It is an astonishing position for a national oil Minister to take, any true leader that is all for the national interest.
What does “better contract administration” mean in Mr. Jagdeo’s thinking? To date, the contract administration culture observed by the PPP/C Government, under the oil guidance of the Vice President has not been impressive. For starters, it is largely shrouded in secrecy, and some details only become public after continual exposing and pushing by this newspaper. When some details of Mr. Jagdeo’s contract administration are made public, a barrage of concerns, criticisms, and questions have usually followed. Whenever Mr. Jagdeo presents his version of contract administration, there always seems to be things that he is not being totally forthcoming about. It is as if he is splitting hairs over what could get he and his Government in trouble, or reveal a part of their hand that must remain tightly closed at all times.
Where the truths of this oil are concerned, Mr. Jagdeo seems to prefer to have them extracted from him like a dentist performing a root canal, meaning, through painstakingly retrieving the nerves from the tormenting tooth cavity. Guyanese listening to or reading about the precise words of Mr. Jagdeo can’t help concluding that he is hiding something, that he prefers to circle around endlessly, that he buys time to come up with crafty answers that add more mysteries to this so-called administration of our oil wealth.
Mr. Jagdeo, as the nation’s oil spearhead, has been a study in timidity, hesitancy, and dodginess when it comes to confronting the oil consortium led by America’s ExxonMobil. He doesn’t want to step on any foreign toes, and decided that it is better to offend Guyanese, try to whip them in line with his actions, and continue this song and dance of his on the stewardship of this oil wealth. The latest to emerge from his overtaxed mind is now this puzzle of “better contract administration.” We have an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that should be working alongside ExxonMobil and monitoring step-by-step its offshore activities, but it has been reduced to a watchdog without bark, without sight, and without backbone. The PPP/C Government is proud of our EPA, which is mocked all over the region, and wider world, such an embarrassing State Agency that it has become. Perhaps, this is what the Vice President means by “better contract administration.”
Vice President Jagdeo had opportunity to wring concessions out of ExxonMobil in the approval of the Payara and Yellowtail projects, but turned out to be impotent when both occasions passed with nothing material developing for Guyana. The record is that Mr. Jagdeo failed at his newest clever concoction of “better contract administration” when he didn’t seize the moment. On each occasion that Vice President Jagdeo should have gone to bat for his own people, he has been found loudly selling ExxonMobil’s line about risk and return. When Mr. Jagdeo should be in Guyana’s corner, he is always quickly throwing in the towel and conceding defeat before big, bad ExxonMobil, which has a stranglehold on him.
Now, his position is that if “better contract administration” is tried and fails, then “we will take a harder line.” Mr. Jagdeo is scheming to give Guyanese the impression that he is up to the job of confronting ExxonMobil. Mr. Jagdeo is no position to try this “harder line” he plucked out of thin air, not when the oil companies have him on his knees. Listen to his feeble excuses, observe his groping postures, analyse his pawing the air for what will buy him time to dig himself from the deep hole in which he lives. He has had time and opportunity to take the harder line that he now spouts, but shriveled. When will the time for trying that so-called harder line be, Mr. Jagdeo? It is doubtful that it ever will be.
Was Jagdeo honest when he made those promises?
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