Jan 23, 2023 Editorial
Kaieteur News – We give President Ali his due: he is into big speeches, big gestures, and big postures. In fact, the President is first in a long line of PPPC Government players and officers, who are cut of the same cloth. Vice President Jagdeo, Natural Resources Minister Bharrat, Finance Minister Singh, and the Executive Director of Guyana’s Environmental Protection Agency, Mr. Parsram stand as the best examples of those who say a lot, but deliver very little. While they proclaim and parade in a pool of words, Guyanese are forced into a long wait for sensitive things that either take an endless amount to time to happen, or they do not happen at all.
The President has now come before the Guyanese public to insist that “Even if it’s a quarter barrel of oil, or less, oil spill report must be made public” (KN January 19). A strong, spirited, and stirring statement like that coming out the nation’s leader should be a song that is thrilled to, except that it may turn out to be nothing but a mournful funeral symphony for Guyanese citizens. Who can complain or criticise what President Ali said? The more relevant question takes matters to a different place and height: which citizen of Guyana can point to the many things that their President has put out powerfully into the public arena, only for almost nothing to be delivered? Chronic disappointment is not the word that fits, but acute disgust that refuses to go away.
This is what has been a constant feature of public promises and commitments (speeches) made. The Vice President has failed to deliver documents, like mining contracts, despite making repeated promises, almost oaths. Of more recent vintage, Vice President Jagdeo boldly assured Guyanese that they should ‘talk to Vick about that’, when the issue of the long promised and long-awaited release of the large mining contracts were put on the table. The problem is that Vick (Natural Resources Minister Bharrat) has since refused to talk, notwithstanding his own promise to give an ‘update’ on the same mining contracts, and the status of the US$7.3B audit of the expenses of American oil giant, ExxonMobil.
Because of the extensive record of the PPPC Government and its people to commit to one thing, and then the opposite usually being what normally results, there is a healthy dose of accepting what the President had to say about any oil spill, and a report being published, so that Guyanese are in the know. Because Dr. Ali is the nation’s leader, we prefer to treat him with proper respect, and the deference that his high office is due. If he was not in that position, it is likely that the sharpest criticisms and dismissals would have been forthcoming relative to what he said about an oil spill of any size, and reporting on it.
Let us look at what we know. Last September, a supposedly single-barrel oil spill occurred at ExxonMobil’s offshore oil operations. It came up in the media, with only the customary blankets of silence then taking over. Almost five months after what was reported to be a one-barrel oil spill, mountains had to be leveled to get to the bottom of what really happened, how much of a spill it was, and who was responsible. If one barrel of oil spilled is causing this amount of bobbing and weaving, of running for thick cover, we shudder to think of what the situation on reporting would be if the spill is greater, as in more barrels.
Now, the nation learns that, according to the EPA head, the agency has a report a hand, and it is investigating. The EPA head either is taking Guyanese for a ride, or he himself is being ridden into irrelevance and impotence. What could the EPA be investigating? What is this crucial State agency capable of investigation about an offshore oil spill, when its record of standing up for Guyanese on hazardous developments on land is woeful and appalling, the subject of ongoing derision? This must be part of the charade, with Guyana’s President serving as the lead singer and orchestra conductor. Our position is straightforward: leaders and ministers must keep their promises.
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