Sep 19, 2022 Editorial
Kaieteur News – What will His Excellency, President Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali and Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo do now? Will it be a case of more of the old spinning to give the foreign oil companies a way out? Or will it be the time for tightening of their belts and finally readying to be about winning for Guyana? These questions are driven by the article titled, “Exxon, Ex-Pres. Granger changed recovery of 2% royalty -Addendum reveals” (KN September 17). The big question is this: will President Ali and Vice President Jagdeo take this amendment to the contract and run with their all for what it represents?
The unmoving mantra of the PPP/C Government and its leaders about sanctity of contract, and the sacred nature of its terms and conditions are all now shot to pieces and should be scattered to the winds. As we editorialised in our September 5 edition, “Renegotiation – touching one provision, means having to touch all.” The 2% royalty has progressed from recoverable by ExxonMobil, according to 2016 contract to non-recoverable in 2019 by addendum, under the signatures of the then ExxonMobil Country Head, Rod Henson, and then President David Granger. The first chink in the armour of the 2016 oil contract was made, and it is not insignificant, for it opens up the world of possibilities for Guyana.
The PPP/C Government and its two top leaders must not waste a second. They must use what happened with the 2% royalty as the basis for firm, continuous, and comprehensive actions to bring about better for all Guyanese by renegotiating this criminal oil contract that menaces our existence. In the simplest terms, ExxonMobil must give more, ExxonMobil must pay more, and ExxonMobil must do much more. For the Guyanese people, so that they can truly experience what it means to be the owners of billions of barrels of oil, and to be a producer of it.
This is what President Ali and Vice President Jagdeo must grab onto and make non-negotiable. It is not the time for either of them to be timid, to hem and haw, to be fearful. It is not the moment for either leader to be squandering the opportunity by debating and arguing with their own Guyanese about whether the contract was amended, or not. As said before, there must be no spinning, no ducking, and no retreating. Further, to do anything other than start the process for the earliest renegotiation of the 2016 oil contract would be the worst of betrayals, the most unpardonable of evil national sellouts.
Much time has already been lost in the two years since the PPP/C returned to office. We don’t have any interest in getting bogged down by considerations of whether the PPP/C Government knew about this change in the recoverable terms to the 2% royalty, or when it did. Undoubtedly now, the President and Vice President know today what has been changed, what has been achieved. They also have to know what this 2019 amendment means, regarding going after all those other horrendous terms and conditions embedded in the 2016 contract.
All those insulting and extremely disadvantageous items to Guyana must be revisited and renegotiated, and this must be done now. We have already lost a lot of money, and significant change must be in the making without any delay. We name just a few of the bitter bone-in-the-throat items, such as royalty percentage, taxes, and ring-fencing. Those are only for a start, and definitely not all. From our perspective, the 2016 contract should be scrapped altogether, with Guyana and ExxonMobil sitting at the table of renegotiation as honest and equal partners, and starting from scratch. Quite frankly, nothing else will feel as rewarding, nothing as good.
As always, we emphasise this point: we want ExxonMobil and its partners to make good money, but it must not be at our expense. We, the Guyanese people, must also make good money. Let genuine and comprehensive renegotiation begin now. Will the PPP/C Government, as led by President Ali and Vice President Jagdeo, actually summon the nerve, strength, and courage to do so? This is their moment to show what they are made of, and for whom first and foremost.
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