Oct 31, 2022 Letters
Kaieteur News – I refer to Isabelle de Caries’ letter in Stabroek News (October 28, 2022) under the title “The only culture that matters in business practice is the value placed on our assets.” Before going into the substance of my reply to Ms. de Caries, allow me to say how pleased I am that we could debate these critical issues.
Ms. de Caries critique inadvertently supports my arguments in parts but is inaccurate in other parts. Let us take the former to start. On the question of sanctity of contracts, de Caries writes “In 2018, shortly after the infamous ‘tweaking’ of the PSA with ExxonMobil by the Granger administration, a delegation was dispatched from the UK under the auspices of Chatham House. Its mission: to lecture the APNU/AFC cabinet on the ‘sanctity of contract.”
Well, that is exactly my point, right down to the ‘agent’ (in this case Chatham House) dispatched to lecture the GoG. A contract is a contract and cannot be ‘tweaked’ by mere whim and fancy. That was the essential point of my SN letter. In fact, Chatham House’s journal, International Affairs, it its 100th anniversary published my critique of the kind of practice Ms. de Caries complains about. In my article, published in January 2022, I drew attention to the role of the same Chatham House and its journal in defending Western interest for an entire century. I wrote, “In the UK, the central challenge for foreign affairs thinkers was how to claim leadership in promoting democracy and freedom while denying national independence…”
We can now move on to the inaccurate parts of Ms. de Caries’ letter. In this instance, the argument is that the US under Trump, and the UK under Boris Johnson, reneged on international agreements previously struck. This is an elementary mistake because while my arguments concerned corporate culture, de Caries points to inter-state relations.
Finally, the writer claims that, “intercultural relations may also cloak other anachronisms such as a craven mindset.” The reverse is true. “Craven mindset” is applicable to those who think that cultural solipsism is the answer. The add-on argument to de Caries’ “craven mindset” argument is that we should have turned down ExxonMobil’s offer and not worry too much if they leave. Ms de Caries put it thus – “So what if they do? Others will come in their place. We have assets that are currently much prized on the international market.”
I am keen on finding out more about these benevolent oil companies that would come to Guyana and give us a better deal. Please name them and provide at least the case history of their kinder and gentler business practices. We live in a capitalist global economy, and while corporate social responsibility is highly praised, the logic of capitalist business is the maximization of profit.
I again thank Isabelle de Caries for enjoining a debate on our hydrocarbon resources. I look forward to a constructive exchange of perspectives.
Dr. Randolph Persaud
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