Optimism is not enough, Sir Ron

It’s nice of the one-time Guyanese broadcaster – frankly, one of the best in his time amongst a whole bunch of top of the line radio men and women……….sigh – turned high-level diplomat, Sir Ronald Sanders to wish us well in his cross or crutch comment on our hunt for oil and natural gas.

Here’s what Sir Ron had to say about the drilling exercise that is going on right now: “Already, Guyana’s economy is benefitting from millions of dollars being pumped by two companies into their operations. Should the drilling release the expected millions of barrels of oil and trillions of cubic feet of natural gas, the country’s economy will boom.”

Easy on the “boom” Sir Ron! Those of us who live here prefer to play a wait and see game………many a slip between the cup and the lip. For starters we in Guyana haven’t been told much about this oil-drilling thing beyond the fact that CGX and REPSOL are here. Up until now we’re pretty much in the dark………out of the loop; and if, as you say, Sir, benefits have already accrued to the economy from the “millions of dollars” which CGX and REPSOL have pumped into their operations, perhaps someone may wish to lead us in the direction of those benefits. Better roads? Better schools? Jobs? No more flooding? Remember, Sir Ron our economy is “already” benefitting. Your words, not ours. We’re willing to assume that you may know a bit more than we do, but we’d like to know too……..if you don’t mind Sir.

As for this business of the country’s economy booming if the many millions of barrels of oil and trillions of cubic feet of natural gas materialize, all we that wish to say Sir is that our experience of how things work around here has taught us to be cautious about these things. You see, Sir, some of us have been reading up on this oil business and one of the things that we have learnt – and you make the point yourself – is that oil can be as much a cross as a crutch. The “boom” is not a fait accompli; It’s not a done deal, Sir………. at least not from where we stand. The Canadians have already told us that corruption can kill the dream; and if the truth be told, Sir, Guyana is no slouch when it comes to corruption! Even our President has conceded this.  We’re trying hard to stay positive, Sir! But we need more reassurance that corruption won’t make the whole thing crash.

Your point about the need for us to train geologists, geochemists and geophysicists to fill some top positions in oil and your urging that the government “invest urgently in modernizing and upgrading the country’s institutions of learning” is well taken Sir, but for God’s sake, Please, forget the University of Guyana when it comes to training these oil people. The poor, put upon, politically poisoned institution doesn’t know what its fate will be from one day to the next. It can hardly handle what it has on its plate right now far less to be saddled with this extra burden.

Actually, if you do have any clout with the Ramotar administration you might wish to ask them nicely about the idea of investing millions, many millions, in an institution specially designed to teach those skills you mention. Surely, there are worse things that we can do than secure a loan for such a purpose! Aren’t there? But whatever you do, Sir, if you are ever tempted to write or speak on the subject of training for the oil sector again – do leave UG out of it! Bad idea, Sir! Terrible idea!

Still, we appreciate your sentiments. It would be a good thing if we are able to afford a new education infrastructure to replace the current broken down one; and we can repair our roads and fix our garbage problem and train more doctors and nurses and pay our public servants better and fix GECOM’s problems and invest in a better Police Force and of course gas would be cheaper at the pumps. We’re with you all the way, Sir Ron! Except, of course, for that little bird the keeps singing a persistent tune in our ears……c-o-r-r-u-p-t-i-o-n.




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