…as ExxonMobil recovers US$4B in first six months of 2023
Kaieteur News – President of the Transparency Institute Guyana Inc (TIGI), Fredericks Collins is calling on all Guyanese to demand the cost recovery statements handed over to the Government of Guyana (GoG) from ExxonMobil.
These statements would provide citizens with a vivid picture of what the oil in the Stabroek Block is being used to pay for. Recent data from the Bank of Guyana (BoG) indicates that during the first half of this year, a whopping US$4 billion was recovered, while Guyana merely received US$658.4M during the same period. Be that as it may, the country is at loss for what the oil was used to pay for.
According to the Production Sharing Agreement (PSA) the GoG inked with ExxonMobil and its partners, Hess Corporation and CNOOC, 75 percent of the revenue generated each month is to be deducted towards the investment made by the companies with the remaining earnings split as profit between the parties.
Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo has been asked on multiple occasions whether these statements can be made available however those calls have fallen on deaf ears.
In March this year, Jagdeo said he was not comfortable releasing the statements since he believes Kaieteur News would “nitpick” and “lie about it”. He nevertheless noted that “we are open to exploring it and seeing what more could be done.”
Later in August when this publication reminded the VP of his commitment to “explore” what could be done about the release of the cost recovery statements, he became annoyed.
To this end, the President of the watchdog body condemned the attitude of the VP, asking why the former President was being allowed to act as the sole authority on such a critical sector. According to him, “He can say anything he likes and it is a strange kind of governance we have in Guyana. This is a one man show, and everybody just looking on.”
Collins, a stern advocate for transparency in governance explained that Guyanese deserve to know what their resources are being used to fund and that government must remember that they are merely the managers and not the owners of the country’s wealth.
“It is not just that we deserve to know what our oil is being used to pay for but it is our resources and it is our business. All a government is, is a caretaker. They are the managers of our affairs, the Constitution says that,” the TIGI President urged.
He added, “The government is not free to reinterpret the Constitution to suit itself. The only secrecy the Constitution allows is for military matters and matters which are private with regard to a government official’s own business but everything else, the government owes it to the citizenry to disclose what is the citizens’ business.”
Contrarily, the transparency advocate described what has been playing out in Guyana as a “cancerous state of affairs”. He said elected officials have adopted an attitude to convince Guyanese that the information belongs to them. Collins however insisted that these officials must not be allowed to “lord over our information” and get away with it.
The President of the Transparency Institute added that while the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) committed to greater transparency in the management of the oil sector in its 2020 Elections Manifesto, there has been no evidence of this to date.
He said, “There is no greater transparency…between the government and Exxon, they seem to be playing a game of hide and seek with the people…the constitution says very clearly that all those affairs are the people of Guyana affairs and all the government is doing is managing it for us. There is no reason why they should be keeping those things secret.”
Collins added, “There is no reason why they should be keeping those things secret. There could only be one reason why Mr. Jagdeo wants to not show us, all is not well. That can be the only reason.”
The TIGI President told Kaieteur News that while the disregard for the basic tenets of transparency is more blatant today, it is not a new phenomenon, in fact, this was obtained before the PPP took office.
As such, he urged, “The government of Guyana and the people of this country must get serious and demand that the guardians of their property, which is the petroleum resources, treat them with some degree of respect and that’s not what is happening.”
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