Sep 27, 2023 Editorial
Kaieteur News – Vice President Jagdeo says that a Petroleum Commission could have made the ExxonMobil’s US$214 audit fiasco worse. We would like to say that Jagdeo doesn’t know what he is talking about, but the fact is the Vice President knows that what he is saying about a Petroleum Commission in the context of an oil audit is riddled with holes and shaky.
He knows also that his words are new wrinkles in the games that he plays. Moreover, he knows that all he does is make himself look less than a national oil head, and more of an empty talking head.
In the matter of the US$214 million audit, the Vice President said, “Just imagine if there was no political oversight and the Petroleum Commission with just technical people [was handling this matter by itself] then it would have gone through because that is the converse of it.” The first hole in Jagdeo’s position is that the same “political oversight” of which he speaks so brightly, is what got Guyana in these dirty, murky, waters. The PPPC Government has been too closely attached, and uncomfortably and dangerously so, to the management of the nation’s oil patrimony. When governments are too intimately involved in business as big and as complex as oil, then dirty tricks takeover, and this is exactly what Guyana is living with in this audit of ExxonMobil’s precontract expenses. To repeat: political oversight of an untransparent kind is what has Guyana in this shameful position.
Further, when Jagdeo speaks of technical people, he is trying hard to get Guyanese to believe that all these [technical] people know are theories, concepts, and abstractions. In other words, their heads are trapped in graphs and spreadsheets, and they have no real-world experience, and they lack the exposure and savvy to understand how the oil business works. That is absolute nonsense, and Jagdeo knows it, especially if the right people are on the Petroleum Commission, and not crooked party hacks.
It is obvious that Jagdeo is clutching at straws to defend what cannot be defended, which is political oversight is superior to that of an independent Petroleum Commission staffed by experienced, resourceful people. How did he come to his easy, self-serving conclusion that “it would have gone through” if a Petroleum Commission was standing guard over the audit? Jagdeo is pushing what sells his position that political oversight is better than a Petroleum Commission, while pretending that those sitting on such a sensitive national protective body would be dummies, and giveaway the house without knowing it. Jagdeo is coming up with all kinds of illogic, and vapid positions to justify not having a Petroleum Commission. It is to allow politicians and their flunkies to run rackets, as we now have with this precontract audit.
The Vice President next proceeded to make another point that underlined his determination to maintain things the way they are, viz., no Petroleum Commission. He said, “[If you have] a Petroleum Commission staffed with technical people [who are autonomous] and the politicians had objected and said let the GRA intervene, then what would have happened? So, it could have been worse.” There are three components in what Jagdeo reassures himself is brilliant, but which must be stripped down and publicly displayed.
First, he makes a big production of “technical people who are autonomous.” They have to be if they are to function properly. More importantly, it highlights the PPPC Government’s and Jagdeo’s own doggedness to command and control everything, especially oil. Autonomous is poisonous to the PPPC’s and Jagdeo’s push towards total domination. Second, he said that “if…the politicians objected”, the question is why would they? Why when there is a competent, independent Petroleum Commission established? Such a commission is there to operate, whether politicians object or not. Because oil is money in abundance, politicians outside the decision-making circle would find plenty over which to object, and usually for their own self-enriching purposes. Regarding Jagdeo’s conclusion that “it could have been worse”, what he did was appoint himself judge, jury, and sole authority on oil, audits, and Petroleum Commissions. What is it that this man has to protect? Why is there this fear of an independent, credible Petroleum Commission?
Essequibo is we own, can we say the same about the oil?
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