Latest update March 27th, 2023 12:59 AM
Mar 19, 2023 News
Kaieteur News – Opposition Member of Parliament (MP), David Patterson believes the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) administration is deliberately hiding the findings of the audits conducted into the expenses of oil major, ExxonMobil.
Patterson, who functions as the Shadow Natural Resources Minister, reminded that more than seven years have elapsed since the petroleum giant submitted the exploration bills to Guyana.
In September 2019, the A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) regime had awarded a contract to a UK firm called, ‘IHS Markit’ to audit US$460M which ExxonMobil said it spent prior to 2015 for exploration works offshore Guyana.
Last month, subject Minister, Vickram Bharrat, said the audit report was still being finalized.
Patterson argued that three years have passed since the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) and the audit firm completed their report, yet it cannot be presented to the Guyanese citizens.
He said it is clear that “the government does not want the report issued publicly, since it will highlight ExxonMobil’s billing practices and the government’s very supportive handling of the sector.”
He explained that the audit report would confirm the costs Exxon are claiming to be recoverable and would lay fears aside of possible inflated numbers.
Attorney-at-Law and Chartered Accountant, Christopher Ram in 2020 told this publication that Guyana is being cheated by Exxon on the pre-contract costs. During his appearance on the Kaieteur Radio programme, ‘The Glenn Lall Show: Tell It as It Is’, Ram told listeners that, “Their (Exxon) own figures suggest that they have overcharged Guyana,” Ram said, “and they have never responded to the open accusation that I have made.”
The accusation that the attorney refers to is his charge that Exxon’s claim of US$460M pre-contract costs is overstated by at least US$92M. Ram’s calculation found that all figures supplied by the companies, even when one allows for all expenses and expenditures, amount to a far cry from the US$460,237,918 that Exxon and its partners, Hess and CNOOC Nexen are claiming.
Even then, Ram says that his assessment was generous. He had said that it is overstated by “at least” US$92M, because not all expenditure is recoverable as pre-contract costs.
To this end, Patterson at a recent press conference told the media, “I do believe that where there is smoke there is always fire. I do believe that the audits, the first one the pre-contract audits, as I think several economists and accountants have been saying, will reveal Exxon’s billing habits, will reveal how Exxon bills (us) for the cost recovery process and that is why it’s been delayed…obviously what the audits would reveal is that we are being billed for all sorts of a manner of things and the public outcry would be so great…”
Similarly, the former Minister of Public Infrastructure said the report of the audit conducted between 2018 and 2020 that was signed last May could reveal more inflated spending. That audit was for US$7.3 billion. The final report for this review is expected to be handed over to government this month, according to the Natural Resources Minister.
Patterson was keen to point out that failure to verify these expenses may tighten the oil company’s hold on the country so that it never gets pass the stage of cost recovery, thereby shortening profits received from the sector.
When the contract was awarded for the audit, Minister Bharrat assured that the report will be made public. “This audit? Yes, sure. This audit when it’s completed? Yes. The document will be filed at the Attorney General’s office”, he said.
President Irfaan Ali had also promised to make the document public. At a press conference in January, this publication reminded the Head of State of this commitment to which he responded, “The public can look forward to a lot of things and I’m not a person who walks back on my commitment to this country.”
They are being paid while we are being played…your pain is their gain!
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