Nov 14, 2022 Editorial
Kaieteur News – A representative body of Guyanese businesspeople came right out and said what had to be said. The Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) didn’t pull its punches. The GCCI wants more for its members, the GCCI is calling for better for local businesses, the GCCI is demanding a level playing field, one like what ExxonMobil plays on. It is about the big billions in tax favours granted to ExxonMobil and others operating here. The GCCI want some of that cheesecake and sweetbread.
It was in this very paper that the full story of how much the ExxonMobil(s) in Guyana’s world collect in tax waivers. Billions upon billions, a staggering amount that is given in the form of tax waivers, tax exemptions, tax ‘freeness’ that are lavishly dished out to ExxonMobil and its kind. It would not be an exaggeration to posit that the total in tax waivers that Guyana gives to these corporate bandits would be enough to tear down and rebuild from scratch this country board by board, and brick by brick. We are giving away so much that whatever we collect is almost 40% less. If this is business, it is a criminal business.
What Guyana is giving away in the form of tax exemptions is so extravagant that it is a monster by itself. It is so rich and so sweet that Guyana’s private sector wants some of the same for its members. Like ExxonMobil, Guyana private sector, especially the bigger players, has snatched plenty for themselves, with the collusion of the PPPC Government, but the locals still want more. The private sector spokespeople want to be on equal terms with ExxonMobil where tax exemptions are concerned.
We say good for them, and good to hear a leader in the private sector (GCCI) going public to seek what is good for his group. We applaud the GCCI, in that what is good for ExxonMobil, is good for locals. It would be interesting to see how the PPPC Government responds to this one, since it owes so much to the private sector for where it is today, meaning, firmly entrenched in the corridors of power. As we assess this, what the GCCI is asking for is only fair, what is right, and makes sense, since Guyanese private sector operators, are also owners of our oil wealth. They own, so they must get what outsiders are already getting. To emphasize, Guyanese businesspeople are owners of those offshore oilfields; they not tenants with operating leases, but full-fledged owners.
This has always been our contention. It is that all Guyanese citizens are the true and only owners of this oil treasure. Governments, be they a PPPC Government, or a Coalition Government, are not owners of anything. Governments and leaders are only the elected trustees of what has been given to us by heaven or geology (or other), which makes it imperative that they work diligently and forcefully on our behalf. Now, more than ever before, Guyanese need what would help them to manage their lives better, assist them to rise above the tide that batters them.
Guyanese need more money in their pockets and hands, and they need it now. The private sector (GCCI) is clamoring for less taxes for its people, and they don’t want to wait. On behalf of the Guyanese people, we make the call for every citizen of this country also to be favoured from tax relief, so that they can be given a boost in dealing with the challenges of living in Guyana today. What ExxonMobil gets; Guyanese must get too. Today, we speak only about taxes, with all the other matters involving more money for Guyanese held in suspension for the time being.
For too long, Guyanese have been hearing and reading about fancy numbers. They can’t do or buy or arrange a single beneficial thing with any of those delightful numbers. President Ali must deal with reality. It is time that Guyanese get their fair share. Do something with taxes (and actual cash, and real enduring benefits to lift the local standard of living). The Guyana Government must move to get those from ExxonMobil and other parties, so there is something for us.
Exxon has to put up a sign board across the Demerara Harbour Bridge to tell Guyanese what % of revenue we are getting from the Stabroek Block!
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