Nov 25, 2023 Editorial
Kaieteur News – Guyana is going great guns, as they say, and the power is in its oil production numbers. From 400,000 barrels a day, the Payara field coming on stream increases daily output by 50% to 620,000 barrels. It is almost, but not quite, a barrel of oil per Guyanese per day, definitely one per family. This is a momentous time for both Guyana, at least the US-housed Natural Resources Fund should soon record an annual intake of over US$2B in combined royalties and profits should oil prices hold close to where they have been. At a daily production level of 620,000 barrels, this rich place and its small population should be on top of the world.
Unfortunately, the top of the world is just that: the narrow peak, where only a few in Guyana’s population are living the experience of an oil producer of this magnitude. The chosen few get to taste and know what it is to be a bona fide oil beneficiary from their national patrimony. In contrast, there are the flat lower levels, the broad, well-populated base, which house those whom the richness of the national oil wealth, and its increasing daily production levels, just pass by.
For amid all the stories of soaring production figures, and more on the horizon, there are the tough realities of the Guyanese worker, the Guyanese family, and the Guyanese elderly. Some dollars have come their way before, but it vanishes like a puff of wind that comes and goes as it is felt. A few more dollars have been announced by Guyana’s President, but even with that added and considered, the majority of Guyanese are still forced to claw by their fingernails to remain on their feet. This is with them living at the most basic of levels, where they cut corners, and are compelled to come up with all types of innovations to keep afloat somehow. The real owners of their nation’s fabulous oil wealth, what the whole world drools over, are still to experience in tangible personal ways what it is to be the richest people on this planet. For most of the Guyanese huddling and hovering close to the poverty line, being the richest is no different from being at the bottom, and without the essentials that make for a comfortable human existence, a dignified one.
At 400,000 barrels of oil produced daily, this should not be the fate of any Guyanese. This should not be when oil prices are where they are. At the new, and much acclaimed, 620,000 barrels of oil a day, Guyana is growing into an oil presence and player of power. Some of that power, that financial power, should be in the hands of all Guyanese, none more than ordinary citizens struggling to see their way. This daily production rate of 620,000 barrels is not the matter of a mere 60,000 barrels a day, but of what pushes Guyana among the top 25 producers of oil. Being around the top 25 global producers of oil is an incredible leap for this country, and it must mean something for all the people of Guyana. The UN should not be reporting about Guyana leading the region with underweight babies at this time. No international institution, no foreign think tank, should be talking about poverty or malnutrition and Guyana in the same breath. But that is what too many Guyanese continue to struggle with, notwithstanding the bright and brighter oil production numbers here. This is more than leadership incompetence and mismanagement, for what is going on in today’s Guyana is a crime.
Impoverished Guyanese are living with the equivalence of a political crime, an oil crime, a corporate crime, and the worst of financial crimes. Unless there is a change for the better in political visions, then the worst is still to come. There is so much oil, so few people, and yet so little for Guyanese to cheer. Guyana’s President Ali has made his Christmas rounds, and is pleased with himself. By the middle of December, Christmas would be nothing but part of the imagination for the left behind in Guyana. This is in a country poised to begin producing 620,000 barrels of oil daily.
AUBREY NORTON FRIGHTEN RENEGOTIATION AND RING-FENCING
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