Sep 26, 2023 News
Exxon’s US$214M audit fiasco…
Kaieteur News – Leader of the Opposition, Aubrey Norton has called for the Government of Guyana (GoG) to take responsibility of the reduction in questionable costs flagged by the British Consultant, IHS-Markit from US$214 million to US$3 million rather than hold ordinary public servants responsible.
During his press conference on Friday, Economic Advisor to the Opposition Leader and spokesperson on oil and gas matters, Elson Low told reporters that ExxonMobil Guyana Limited (EMGL) had confirmed to members of the Opposition that the audit was settled. Such a pronouncement, according to Low, could not have been made without engagement with senior members of government. To this end, he said, “What we don’t want to have is the government to throw public servants under the bus in an attempt to move the blame or shift the blame from them… I don’t know how they could say definitively to us that the matter is settled if they dealt with some junior employee. They would have had to deal with people in the government at the highest level who are decision makers.”
He noted that while the Opposition is eager to find out the true details of what took place with the audit at the Ministry of Natural Resources, the party does not believe public servants should be blamed.
Meanwhile, Norton argued that there is no freedom for public servants to operate in the respective Ministries under the present administration. He said, “People are even afraid to talk. Why then will we accept that some public servant acted on their own when they know for sure that they will face real problems? You are operating in a society that is authoritarian in nature…why do you believe in an area as critical as the oil sector they would be given the freedom to do anything without the Vice President knowing?”
He therefore said, “Bharrat Jagdeo is a control freak and I don’t see anybody escaping that control and doing what they allege they would have done. This is just an attempt to throw the staff under the bus…they now have to cover their tracks and what they do is choose to beat up on the weakest in the chain.”
On Friday, Kaieteur News reported that the Ministry of Natural Resources is set to conduct a thorough investigation into its Petroleum Unit regarding the mishandling of the audit into ExxonMobil’s US$1.7B bills for the period 1999 to 2017.
Vice President, Bharrat Jagdeo made this disclosure Thursday while engaging the media at Freedom House, Georgetown.
He said that the investigation aims to identify the individuals who engaged in an unauthorised reduction of questionable spending by Exxon.
It was reported that the British auditor had flagged over US$200 million in costs that could be contested by the government. The GRA had given its no-objection to the sum on August 8, 2023, however the staff of the Natural Resources Ministry Petroleum Unit engaged in an “unauthorized” process to substantially reduce this figure.
Jagdeo said the ministry will provide a report to Cabinet for review and the appropriate action would be taken thereafter. The official also declined to disclose prior to the completion of this probe, the names of the persons that engaged Exxon. “I would want to await the full report from the ministry to Cabinet and the ministry would have to disclose that to the public too,” he said.
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