Latest update March 27th, 2023 12:59 AM
Jan 28, 2023 News
…country must not allow sector to be mismanaged in Jagdeo’s head
By Davina Bagot
Kaieteur News – Poised as one of the largest oil producers per capita in the World, Guyana must up its game and cease managing the oil sector like mere novices. This is according to Leader of the Opposition, Aubrey Norton, who argued that steps must be taken to constantly scrutinize the spending of oil companies operating in the country among other key measures.
Norton made these and other points during his hour-long contribution to the 2023 Budget Debate yesterday in the National Assembly.
As the Leader of the Opposition seamlessly transitioned during his presentation on the agriculture sector to shift focus on the largest industry in the country, he told the House “If at the end of this year Guyana never puts another (Floating Production Storage and Offloading vessel) FPSO into use, we would still be one of the highest oil producers per capita in the entire World. We would be producing easily four times as much oil per day as Ghana- 10 times as much as Trinidad and Tobago and far more than Equatorial Guinea to which we have often been compared.”
To this end, Norton argued that, “We cannot continue to operate like novices who
have no idea of how an oil industry should be properly managed.”
The Opposition Leader pointed out that the Parliamentary Sectoral Committee on Natural Resources must be constantly engaged, brainstorming to review legislation and regulations that govern the industry. More importantly, he urged that the Public Accounts Committee must keep the industry under close watch.
To further beef up oversight on the expenditure aspect of the oil sector, he said that the nation’s agencies responsible for conducting audits- such as the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) and the Auditor General Offices- should be expanded until they become the “envy of the oil producing World”.
In addition, Norton argued that Guyana should position itself and make the necessary steps to elevate our National University into a renowned Oil and Gas Institution.
According to him, “That is the kind of ambition we need to have. Critical issues in the oil and gas sector need to be under constant scrutiny. We cannot continue to have it mismanaged in the head of the incompetent Vice President (Bharrat Jagdeo).”
He was briefly interrupted by the Speaker of the House, Manzoor Nadir for using an ‘Unparliamentary’ word in the House when he described the VP as “incompetent.”
As he continued along his presentation, Norton told the House that Guyana should be conducting its own analysis on estimates for oil prices, the number of lifts the country estimates to receive- on account of fluctuating daily numbers, the number of possible oil finds in the year, accounting for the number of exploration activities, as well as our internal estimates of the probability of success.
“While we welcome ExxonMobil’s investment in Guyana, we cannot throw our hands up in the air and hope against hope that ExxonMobil will run its operation effectively and transparently,” Norton reasoned.
He said that government still seems to be in awe of the oil major and any oil company that comes to Guyana, completely unaware that world class expertise can be imported to help Guyana effectively govern this sector.
In fact, Norton argued that the Department of Energy that was established by the Coalition made steps in the right direction that Guyana must build on. Instead, the Opposition Leader said, “We are asked to place our faith in a man who has failed perpetually.”
Corruption and Transparency
In winding down his arguments on the management of the petroleum sector, Norton explained that “incompetence” does not prevent the government from releasing the long overdue audit of US$7.3 billion in cost recovery expenses, neither does it prevent the nondisclosure of the full new model Production Sharing Agreement (PSA).
He said, “This is the work of a malicious intent to hide from public scrutiny and accountability.” Norton added, “It has gotten to the point that when it comes to oil (sector) the government is viewed with extreme suspicion by even the most moderate names.”
To this end, Norton told the House that he did not idly compare Guyana to Equatorial Guinea earlier in his presentation. According to him, that African nation is not just corrupt but poor.
“That country is famous for having a GDP (Gross Domestic Product) per capita that rivals many European countries, while 70 percent of its people live in desperate poverty,” the Opposition Leader said.
Every day, Norton argued that Guyana resembles that nation more with half of its population living in poverty while the People’s Progressive Party elites, friends, family and favourites gorge themselves.
Meanwhile, in response to the Opposition Leader, Minister with responsibility for Finance, Dr. Ashni Singh said Norton’s contributions to the Debates were “bloviating”. He said if he were to respond to the Opposition he would need more time than that granted to him to present the Budget so he instead focussed on the Opposition’s remarks.
Dr. Singh said, “He struck me as a bloviator…the art of speaking for as long as the occasion warrants while saying nothing at all.”
They are being paid while we are being played…your pain is their gain!
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