Sep 20, 2022 News
…plays down Suriname President’s statement that oil wealth belongs to citizens
Kaieteur News – Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo has warned that Politicians are not the most honest people, and suggested therefore, that citizens be mindful when taking in the appeasing words of their leaders.
The insinuation was made by the Government’s point man on oil and gas, when he appeared on a special programme of ‘The Glenn Lall Show’ last Tuesday. Aired on the Kaieteur Radio, Lall asked Jagdeo on the show to comment on Suriname’s President, Chandrikapersad Santokhi’s utterance about oil wealth belonging to citizens and not political parties.
Santokhi in his feature address at the opening ceremony of Suriname’s Oil and Gas Energy Conference last June said that the “…natural ecosystem including oil and gas is God-given, so it cannot be claimed or owned by any Government or any political party as it belongs to the people of the nation and they should benefit from the wealth that is being generated.” Jagdeo, who is also the General Secretary of the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) was asked his opinion on Santokhi’s statement given Guyana’s own conversations on its nascent petroleum sector. Jagdeo said that “Politicians gaffe all the time…” Clarifying that while his response may not be aimed at the Surinamese President, the VP indicated that Politicians often make statements that are without merit, and outside of what the reality is. Jagdeo said that every day there is a big demand for things and Governments have to make them work with the resources they have. After a long time of developing plans and budgets for Guyana at a time when there was no money in the state sector, and at a time when the country was struggling to pay debts, the VP said the administration had to make it work. He insinuated therefore, that it is until there is an understanding of what is available to government, that certain statements should be made.
In Suriname’s case, Vice President Jagdeo said that until now, that country has not proven its oil reserves since it has not completed the assessment. “So they are a long way from developing these resources,” Jagdeo highlighted. He said that Guyana is here and now, “…and every time we raise a lot of expectations, people think that it’s gonna be money forever and that it is large sums.” “Right now it is not a large sum,” the Jagdeo rebuffed. He explained too that given net zero, that is why the Government’s depletion policy is to accelerate. To further make his point on small earnings, the Vice President said that one year of revenue from the oil companies has funded two major infrastructure projects alone namely, the children’s hospital and bridge across the Demerera River. He said that people need these types of development and that is why the Government is investing in such resources.
“So Politicians tend to say lots of things- it sounds good…,” Even here in Guyana, the Jagdeo charged, the previous Government had criticized that Guyanese were paying too many taxes, only to implement some “200 taxes and fees” when they came into office. The Vice President said, “If you trust Politicians on their word; that is why we (PPP) stick faithfully to the manifesto. I’m not into all of these lofty sounding things. Every day we have to fix people’s things, and that is what we are doing now; building more hospitals, more schools, more scholarships to people, helping with the cost of living. That is where our concern is. I’m not into all the gaff.” Jagdeo was nonetheless asked again whether he supported Santokhi’s assertion that the oil wealth belongs to the people and not political parties and to which he said, “I agree.”
At the Surinamese oil and gas conference, Santokhi said, “We have created in my country, a wealth and a stabilisation fund that must be the financial basket for the future of our country. We are keenly aware that securing the funds for the purpose for which it was created also requires a Government committed to being prudent and efficient in using those funds with cheques and balances built in.”
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