Dec 04, 2023 News
“I saw them fighting over smuggled chicken but these people have been silent on all that has been happening with our oil sector. The very contract that we signed with Exxon is an economic model that promotes hunger and malnutrition in this land but instead of our leaders speaking up on that, we hear them getting heated over issues like smuggled chicken.” – Ramon Gaskin
Kaieteur News – Guyana is recognized as the country with the highest discoveries globally in the last decade. Despite the vast resources discovered offshore Guyana, specifically in the Stabroek Block, the country has topped the charts for child malnutrition in the Latin America and Caribbean (LAC) region, a phenomenon that is likely to continue as the political Opposition fails to hold government to account on the management of the vastly developing sector.
Civil society activist and transparency advocate, Ramon Gaskin on Sunday told Kaieteur News that while the Opposition has demonstrated an overwhelming vigor on smuggled chicken over the weekend, the same group failed to take a similar position on the main driver of the country’s economy, the petroleum industry.
“I saw them fighting over smuggled chicken but these people have been silent on all that has been happening with our oil sector. The very contract that we signed with Exxon is an economic model that promotes hunger and malnutrition in this land but instead of our leaders speaking up on that, we hear them getting heated over issues like smuggled chicken,” Gaskin said.
The activist noted that while the political body should be vocal on such corrupt acts, it has taken a questionable position when it comes to holding government to account on this crucial sector.
Gaskin said that while the National Assembly has not been meeting as it should over the past three years to present the opportunity for proper scrutiny, the political group has been failing to fervently do its job when it comes to the activities of the oil companies.
“They are not doing a good job of holding these people to account. Another critical body, the PAC (Public Accounts Committee) has not been meeting as it should too because of the lack of quorum and besides that the Opposition has not been very active in dealing with critical issues facing the country such as the audit, renegotiation or fighting for better terms for Guyana and couple other things but they are not dealing with that,” he said.
Gaskin believes the Opposition has been deliberately keeping silent on the burgeoning petroleum sector. According to him, “Essentially Norton and his people are supportive of ExxonMobil and the American people and they are hoping with the help of this country that they can get a change of government.”
Gaskin argued that the Opposition has taken a “friendly” approach to Exxon and the United States much to the detriment of Guyanese and its resources. He reasoned, “They are not doing the work they are supposed to do because they are focused on one objective- to take over government, so while these people are taking advantage of Guyanese and their resources the Opposition is just focused on getting support from the United States and ExxonMobil. That’s why he doesn’t say anything about them at his press conferences, he doesn’t condemn them, he doesn’t say anything.”
Meanwhile, the activist highlighted, “Guyana is the highest in the region with malnutrition in this place according to the reports. We have these large oil finds compared to the whole world and everybody malnourished and hungry in this country. The economic model that we have here only favours the foreigners and this is what is going to continue because our leaders are refusing to do anything.”
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