I would like to add my voice to those of many others, including Christopher Ram, Dr Troy Thomas of the Transparency Institute, the Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (EITI), and editors and columnists of our various media, calling for the immediate release of the oil and gas contract. We have a right to know what our politicians are guarding from our knowledge without any convincing explanation as to why they are doing so. Guyana has taken a beating economically since we got independence over 50 years ago, and after all this time, this small, resource rich nation of less than ¾ of a million people is still struggling to provide a decent lifestyle for the people.
The gold industry pioneered by the private sector is now the biggest national revenue earner, but because of poor management and regulations along with the big stick attitude of governments that benefited a chosen few, none of the enormous profits of this major industry have been enjoyed across the board by the people of Guyana, who own this precious resource. Oil can go this same route if we are again complacent and allow ourselves to be kept out of the picture.
Many see the discovery of oil as a bright star at the end of the tunnel, but this star could quickly fade if we do not make very strong demands and let it be known that we are not going to sit by while a few enjoy what is rightly ours.
Our politicians are at present behaving as though they, and only they, know what is good for us. If we do not demand and continue to demand that we be privy to this important contract then we can never complain should we be the losers yet again.
Does the APNU+AFC coalition know something that will shatter any dream of progress we the people have of benefiting from oil and gas, or are they holding out to make a grand disclosure at the appropriate time, which they are hoping can force a change of minds in reconsidering them for re-election? We must not allow this contract to be used as political football or an enticement to re-elect a government which has shown little imagination and creativity in dealing with this economy at its current level.
Make no mistake the oil is ours and not that of a few politicians or any political party, and certainly not that of ExxonMobil.
They should show us the contract now!