Home / Editorial / OP-ED: SCANDALOUS – APNU+AFC REGIME HANDLING OF THE OIL SECTOR

OP-ED: SCANDALOUS – APNU+AFC REGIME HANDLING OF THE OIL SECTOR

The PNC led APNU regime has begun their time in power from exactly where they left off twenty-six years ago. The deals that they have been making are simply scandalous. The public is hard pressed not to conclude that corruption is at the heart of this regime. They cannot help themselves, it is in their nature. The PNC has not changed.

I see the media that is sympathetic to the regime, mainly ‘Kaieteur News’ is unable to cover-up the disaster that the regime is. So they are doing the next ‘best thing’. They are blaming the ExxonMobil for the disaster they have made in handling the agreement with ExxonMobil.

If we want to be generous to say they are not stealing and not making huge ‘backdoor/under the table deals’, then we have to conclude that they are the most incompetent bunch of persons to ever assume high office. Added to their incompetence is the high intoxication with power that is showing in sheer arrogance.

Form all that is being revealed in the press we see that our country has lost, is losing, and will lose billions of US dollars by this deal.

In the first instance the royalty of only 2% is indeed very suspect. Dr. Mangal, the expert that the regime hired said the norm is between 10% to 20%. Why was Dr. Mangal ignored? If he was not, why was his recommendations not considered?

On the basis of 2% royalty and if we assume oil price at US$50 per barrel, production at 300,000 barrels per day and production of 360 days for the year, then Guyana will receive US$108,000 per year. That works out to US$144 per person (assuming a population of 750,000). That is really chicken feed.

Some apologists for the regime say that it is because we have no experience, Exxon took advantage on us. That is the lamest excuse I have heard. Information is available and could have been sourced. Trinidad and Tobago with decades of experience would have been most helpful. Were they asked? If not, why not?

The regime could have sought council from the UN and many other sources. They chose not to and produced the most lopsided agreement, probably in the world.

There is no clarity on the government’s policy on oil. The regime seems to be blundering blindly all the way.

For instance, we are all in the dark as to the issue of local content in the oil and gas sector. Would our private sector benefit? This is a big concern, but the nation remains unenlightened.

Another unpardonable aspect of this agreement is the regime concession to our sovereignty! How could this regime agree that no official can visit ExxonMobil locations without giving seven days notice!

This really makes us look worst than a banana republic. One cannot help wondering what was the inducement to sign something as objectionable as this. These are the same people who beat their chest talking about nationalism yet they have compromised our sovereignty.

This regime action in relation to the collection of funds is also very disturbing. For more than a year they collected US$18M in signing bonus and kept that information hidden. When asked about it they denied ever collecting any. They also ridiculed those asking.

Now it has come out that they had collected it and placed it in a private account. How can anyone be blamed for believing that it was put aside to be carted off by the elite?

The media had wrongly attacked the PPP/C for having secret accounts, they kept repeating that incessantly. The accounts they accused the PPP/C of hiding were the National Industrial and Commercial Limited (NICIL), Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) and Central Housing and Planning Authority (CH&PA) accounts. All were set-up by acts of Parliament, all were legal, all were audited, none was secret.

This regime has violated the Financial Management Association Act (FMAA) and the Constitution by creating a secret bank account. Even now that it is exposed they continue to refuse to put it in the Consolidation Fund, thereby perpetuating an illegality.

In any normal democratic country the regime would have resigned. They had sworn to uphold the Constitution and the Laws of Guyana, now are regularly and knowingly violating them.

It also took this regime years to make public the agreement they signed with ExxonMobil. That suggests that they knew that that agreement was disadvantageous to our nation. They did not want it to come to light.

In hiding it they used the excuse that in 1999 the PPP/C had put ‘a secrecy clause’ in the agreement. They claimed to have been bounded by that.

That is big fat lie!

The regime constantly and deliberately tries to mislead the Guyanese people. They had also claimed that the PPP/C had given out all the blocks that were available offshore. That again is another blatant lie!

Only recently this regime allocated blocks to other companies.

Knowing all of these things our people have a right to be extremely worried of the failure of this regime to establish the Sovereign Wealth Fund. So far, they have even failed to put out a statement of principles. This seems to be deliberate; they don’t want to have anything in the way of putting their hands on these funds.

Coupled with this is the fact that the Minister has enormous powers in the draft Petroleum Bill. The Minister has the power to appoint the board, and if the board is not appointed, he has concentrated in his/her hand the powers and functions of the Board. It is obscene.

These are the very same people who, over and over, claimed that the PPP/C Ministers had too much power. None could be compared to this.

Our people have every reason to be concerned about this.

After all, the history of the PNC in power is replete with massive corruption. This is the same people calling themselves APNU today. They have not changed.

Moreover, over the almost three years that they have been in power, they have not given a single reason for people to believe that they are capable of changing.

Apart from what I have mentioned above, we know of the Drug Bond deal, the deal to sole source millions in drugs for the Georgetown Public Hospital and many others of that nature.

Rumours are abound of money being passed for gun licence and other goods and services.

This regime is galloping at breakneck speed to get rich quick.

Clearly, the PNC/APNU has a different concept of governance, one which is premised on fixing themselves right, to have the good life! Recall the 50% increase in salaries as soon as they took offices and the thousand of percentages in allowances they gave themselves.

A section of our media is also a party to these crimes by trying to make excuses and whitewash the abuses that are being committed.

People must standup before it is too late.
Donald Ramotar, Former President

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