Jan 17, 2023 Editorial
Kaieteur News – We are getting a helping hand, and wise counsel, from one international group after another. What our own Guyanese superstars and pundits have recoiled from doing, people from outside Guyana are stepping up to fill the gap, with solid guidance on what to look for, how to be vigilant, and how to manage this great oil wealth that is our national patrimony.
The list of foreign voices and foreign hands that have been raised and extended for our benefit is already long, and it is growing. We have had Chatham House of the United Kingdom, Oxfam, Global Watch, the World Bank, and even the IMF offering what can only be termed as meaningful advice on the stewardship of our oil bonanza. Warnings have come about spending too much too quickly. We have been alerted to be on top of things on both the income and expense side of our oil business. We have been advised repeatedly to build capacity, and to strengthen those institutions responsible for overseeing our oil riches. Different foreign groups, and individual experts from the outside, have offered priceless assistance to this country. This is for the simple reason that, due to their own lengthy experience, they know how predatory oil companies operate in new oil producing countries of the Third World, and their ugly histories of cheating the unknowing and the ill-equipped.
Because of all of this, it would be the height of ingratitude for any government, any leader, of this country to claim ignorance, to pretend at want of information, in the management of this nation’s oil sector. The concern is that our leaders in government, rather than run with what is received from outside groups, have taken the opposite tack. The PPPC Government had been unsparing in its denunciations of the 2016 oil contract that Guyana has with ExxonMobil.
Yet, now that it is in the seat of power, the same PPP Government and its leaders have transformed into what can only be described as stone-headed, and dismissive, through their actions with this oil, and to the great danger of all citizens of Guyana. Most of the time these days, the PPPC Government seems to be more on the side, more in the pocket, and more at the command of ExxonMobil, Guyana’s exploiter, than on that of Guyanese, their brothers and sisters. Guyanese have had to live with that shady reality, learn to accept that state of affairs passively, while going about their old way of life, as if oil in massive quantities has not been discovered here.
Now, another foreign body, one of great presence and influence, has stepped forward to add its voice to the growing chorus of foreigners, who are alarmed at how we conduct ourselves, given this great and unprecedented wealth that is ours. It is not some fly by night startup that no one knows about that is pressing Guyana to do the right thing, but the 56-member Commonwealth group, of which Guyana has long been a part. Specifically, the Commonwealth is warning Guyanese leaders about the risks that are the norm in the oil business, and of how decommissioning costs, cleaning up, can grow from millions of US dollars to billions of the same currency (KN January 12). The Commonwealth has recommended strict monitoring policies, but it is doubtful that the PPPC Government is paying any attention, or is planning to do anything to protect the interests of this country.
On the heels of that, the Commonwealth also noted that unless the Government of Guyana is bold and unflinching, then ExxonMobil is likely to engage in still more expensive con games on Guyanese. According to the Commonwealth, Guyana must move to secure the cleanup money unilaterally taken out by ExxonMobil, and kept in its coffers, or there is the looming danger that Guyanese taxpayers will be left to hold the cleanup bag, and foot the bill (KN January 13). Oil companies are not in business for charity, or applause. They are about making money by any means, any tricks, which makes cleanup millions fair game for cheap exploitation. The Guyana Government, and Guyana’s leaders, either listen, or they will take this country and its hopes into the gutter.
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