Oct 04, 2022 Letters
‘Article 13’ is relentlessly intensifying the spotlight and increasing the pressure on the PPP Government to come clean to do good and to take the right steps. The group has written since September 19th for release of certain tax documents. By my count, it is over two weeks later, and in this age of instantaneous communication, the silence of President Ali is hurting. Where is the President? Why is President Ali not responding? What could be tying President Ali’s hands? I ask the same three simple questions of the Auditor General (about himself), and highlight the perceptible indifference of his Audit Office in issuing an amended report, a truly clean one this go round. As the AG should know, auditors don’t have to wait on anyone where their professional opinions are concerned, and when their own reputations are subject to critical scrutiny. He has to manifest how independent his Office really is, and each day that this languishes unanswered, is a slap on his work, his record, and his face. I wouldn’t like anyone to do that to me, so I don’t do so to the AG. But he has to be careful not to do the same to himself. Inaction and unhearing are not conducive to the best public considerations at times like these.
Regarding His Excellency, I will continue to give him the benefit of the doubt with thoughts that the UN visit had created some challenges relative to time, energy, priority, and focus. I must respectfully inform the President, however, that this cannot go on indefinitely. The longer that President Ali drags his feet on releasing the whole cupboard of related tax documents, the more distorted his overseership appear to be. I humbly remind His Excellency that he is the President, and he can make this matter go away with the snap of a finger. It would be: release the tax documents, per ‘Article 13’s writing, and let the chips fall where they do. If the story is short, and the Audit Office lapsed, and this is presented in the clearest language, then we can all forgive and move forward. With the proper contrition, of course and a promise that greater care, and clearer truths, will be the standard henceforth.
Editor, I would detest if the other path is taken, which is for the President to go dancing around inquirers seeking truths, and derailing what is sought. He must work overtime to refrain from making himself small (or bludgeoning) on this one. Order the tax documents released, or admit to mistake. What could be easier than either of these two steps?
On another note, ‘Article 13’ is maintaining its pestiferous ways, a real thorn in eyeballs it is becoming. Even though blinking results, it should be welcomed. The latest foray of this vociferous and increasingly aggressive civil society group has to do with the Clyde & Co report, which noted how Exxon pressured the Government of Guyana to sign the PSA, while the Coalition existed in a state of ignorance about the full range of the Stabroek Block wealth (KN October 2). I limit myself to three points on this.
First, this is the American superpower oil company, the same Exxon, that so many Guyanese see so much endearing about that they rage against their fellow citizens who point out that this country is dealing with a corporate predator of the rankest, most grasping, kind. Exxon was clever and controlling in its all-out efforts to get its way at our expense. It is like one of us from the highly university educated pedigree robbing a partner, who can barely read and write, who is sluggish where certain commerce is concerned, and pretend to be his or her best friend, greatest benefactor. For this is what Guyanese Politicians and the PPP Government well-incentivised Guyanese punditocracy want us to believe. They are pitiful, worse than Exxon in many respects.
Second, as the Clyde and Co, findings memorialised, Exxon pressured the Coalition Government to sign the 2016 PSA. I would say that it is more than inferred that duress was at work. In contract considerations, duress is a fateful word, which can be used to one’s advantage. Third, I will go out on a limb and assert that Exxon benefited from what is called asymmetrical information. That is, Exxon had advance access to an unfair information advantage about the full and true extent of the Stabroek Basin oil holdings. In so doing, when Exxon withheld the details or mere inklings of such information, and hurried Guyana forward into the lopsided PSA (while brandishing Venezuela’s Decree 1787), the company engaged in what is tantamount to fraudulent behaviour. Yes, I am taking this far, and this publicly.
It is warming that ‘Article 13’ puts these matters before Guyanese. It would be most inspiring if President Ali and the Hon Vice President were to stop toadying up to Exxon’s mantras and be prepared to expend life and limb for Guyana’s interests. If anyone desires to appreciate first hand how pro-President, pro-VP, and pro-PPP I could be, then I invite them to do as I respectfully recommend. In these, and other issues
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