Nov 20, 2023 Editorial
Kaieteur News – There is an old saying: put government in charge of a program and inefficiency is sure to result. We agree, and add this piece of Guyanese wisdom gleaned from hard experience: put politicians near to anything of substance and rank perversities become standard practice and way of life. When the present audit fiasco cum scandal involving the US$1.6 billion pre-contract expenses of ExxonMobil is observed, all of this registers with increasing certainty. In Guyana, the wonderful development of a massive national patrimony now takes on the appearance of a national tragedy in motion. Chartered Accountant, Chris Ram, in one of his recent columns calls the absence of a Petroleum Commission a recipe for resource curse, which could be extended to mean political curse.
To insulate the activities and money of the national oil patrimony, the establishment of a Petroleum Commission made the rounds, and everybody agreed that it would be a good thing, with the right people onboard. This was the position of the PPPC Government and that of its key figure, Vice President Jagdeo. It was all lip service, and just for the show. In this country, citizens have noticed that politicians have schooled themselves to say the right things, and display the right postures, on crucial issues of governance and leadership, but with a major hidden qualifier. Citizens are told what they want to hear, but of which there is no intention to deliver.
The Petroleum Commission is one such vital issue. It was hot, then became cold and nowhere in consideration of the PPP/C Government. From all indications, Vice President Jagdeo is all words and no action. A Petroleum Commission would mean having to relinquish some closeness to the action and, more importantly, that irresistible element, which is power and control. A Petroleum Commission that is fully functioning and very capable would serve as that independent, professional, and credible agency that stands in clean and convincing stewardship over the tempting oil patrimony. To reiterate, a Petroleum Commission gives Guyanese a better chance of getting fairness and justice from their wealth; it would be the opposite of what politicians can ever come to represent, ever deliver. Local history stands as the best testimonial, for the long trail of evidence is there.
We at this publication believe that this applies to all political groups in this country. A Petroleum Commission worth its salt would have done better, gone about unraveling this US$1.6 billion audit cover-up. It couldn’t have done worse, definitely would not have made such a fool of itself, as all Guyana learned. Look at where matters finally terminated the leading men come across as unconvincing, and they look untrustworthy. The Ministry of Natural Resources fell on its face, with a small team of its workers supposedly making decisions that were never, should never have been, part of their marching orders. Or, at least, this is the official version that does not stand firmly rooted, and which comes across as suspicious the longer this shaky story stays in the public eye.
When powerful politicians cast caution to the winds, do not listen to anyone but themselves, then this is the straw that they are forced to eat. The hard experiences from other poor parts of the world where oil was discovered, confirm that allowing politicians to put themselves in charge of national oil wealth is a recipe for catastrophe. There is the proven need for an unfettered Petroleum Commission that boasts significant presences from civil society working alongside competent technical people to represent a vital check and balance.
Before the gush of oil money, many politicians in both of the major parties have done inexplicably well, and without any consequences. Now that oil money comes in many different forms, politicians position themselves to be the gatekeepers, so that they can possibly collect multimillion dollar tolls. It is why there is so much secrecy, and it also explains the degree of hostility unleashed by politicians when pressed for straight answers on this oil. Though a Petroleum Commission may have its gaps, it would be far better than what any local politician can embody. Resource Curse is already at work in Guyana, with the first ones tarnished being dirty politicians.
Pres. Ali putting water meters on the citizens in Berbice, and not meters on Exxon oil pumps.
Dec 03, 2023Kaieteur Sports – Recently, the Cricket West Indies (CWI) High Performance Unit (HP) and the Guyana Cricket Board (GCB)/Harpy Eagles Franchise (GHE) held an historic meeting when the CWI HP...
Dec 03, 2023
Dec 03, 2023
Dec 03, 2023
Dec 03, 2023
Dec 03, 2023
By Sir Ronald Sanders (The writer is Antigua and Barbuda’s Ambassador to the United States and the Organization of American... more
Freedom of speech is our core value at Kaieteur News. If the letter/e-mail you sent was not published, and you believe that its contents were not libellous, let us know, please contact us by phone or email.