Oct 07, 2022 News
Kaieteur News – More money, more problems, may be the most suitable description for the potential dangers civil society activist, Dr. Yog Mahadeo says, are lurking as Politicians become untouchable, backed by windfall revenues from the oil sector.
Dr. Mahadeo has been a strong critic of the lopsided 2016 Production Sharing Agreement (PSA) which puts Guyana in an economically disadvantageous position with the offshore Stabroek Block operator. Despite numerous pleas from both local and international stakeholders for the renegotiation of the contract, Government remains reluctant to address the agreement. Dr. Mahadeo said that in exchange for not renegotiating the PSA, the administration is assured massive support by the oil companies through the next elections. He said too that international watchdog groups are also beginning to internalize the troubling news that ExxonMobil and partners are calling the shots on the nation’s oil industry and not the Government.
Dr. Mahadeo has gone further however to warn citizens about the devastating effects of that combination. He explained in an invited comment that citizens’ power could be reduced or lost when Governments no longer heed their demands and no longer seek their electoral support given the increased funds that are now accessible from oil money. Dr. Mahadeo said that “Government’s handling of the oil contract exemplifies its embrace of corruption; putting a corrupt Government and a corrupt contract in context.” He said that corruption has already leaked into various sectors and Government Ministries as “nepotism and cronyism is the legacy of this Government”.
In the same vein, Dr. Mahadeo agreed, citizens could be even more disadvantaged and risk losing their power over Politicians who now have more money to funnel toward end games that are not necessarily be in the interest of the country. “A no-confidence motion is a typical example of votes lost due to political will or to wealth distribution,” Dr. Mahadeo highlighted. He suggested that just for a moment “forget the APNU/AFC’s (A Partnership for National Unity +Alliance for Change) torrid performance in office, and see the roles of democracy take strange and ugly turns, all in the name of democracy…” For example, the anti-corruption activist explained, the constitution democratically allows a no-confidence motion in Parliament as a means of unseating a democratically elected Government. “APNU was elected to serve five years… but a no-confidence motion brought an end to it. Now, supposing hypothetically, the one vote needed (in this case Charandass’ (Persaud)) was “bought” (am not saying that it was), but hypothetically, if it was bought, then money/oil interest – or other special interest can “buy” Parliamentarians and have them bring down a Government…”
In the meantime, “what about the electors’ votes that democratically elected them to power? It’s been bought out within the national assembly…” Dr. Mahadeo posited. He said that while the situation seems strange it is true as, “in the USA, the electoral college literally sweeps away the rights of the individual voters…” He indicated that the example given is just one simple way that increased money to Governments allows them to act undemocratically and in the interest of party and affiliates.
Dr. Mahadeo told the Kaieteur News that, “the Government has shown the oil companies that we are a country with weak leaders who cannot take hard decisions for fear of personal loss.” He said that the Government prefers to “stay in power with support from the oil companies and the US Government until this position changes on the (2016) contract,” instead of getting for Guyanese, the benefits deserved.
This show of reluctance on the Government’s part leaves the country in a very vulnerable position as the current administration has failed to be bold and demand a better oil share, the transparency advocate related. He said that the Government has not only exposed their corrupt ways, and how weak they are to acting correctly, but they have exhibited their intention to stay in power through the adherence of the oil companies’ calling.
Dr. Mahadeo told the newspaper that ‘Article 13’ has always supported the renegotiation of the one sided oil 2016 contract as more benefits could be secured for the nation. He reiterated that Government refusing to do so is all part of the room given to the oil companies to conduct their activities uninterrupted, despite Guyana’s weak position within the sector. The Guyana Government has stamped its position to not renegotiate the 2016 oil contract until the next 14 years. They said they will address the oil company backed provisions until the life of the oil agreement ends.
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