The government mishandled the matter involving the signing bonus

Dear Editor,

I think the government mishandled this matter involving the monies received from ExxonMobil which were deposited at the Bank of Guyana.  The very things elaborated upon now, seemingly under duress, should have been and could have been presented to the Guyanese public from the inception, with some qualifiers attached, and under the guidance of sure PR hands.

Whether questions were raised or not, or there was conjecture or not, the recommended approach would have been to say something that furnished inklings of what had transpired, and what was still in the works.  The government could have been forthcoming, and without prompting, along the following lines.

There have been developments of different natures occurring from the Exxon Mobil partnership.  Because of the extremely sensitive nature of these developments, the high probability of misinterpretation, opportunities for continuing speculation, and untimely exposure to the nation, the government has taken a decision to not disclose related details at this point.

This is not the manner in which it desires to handle the oil business, or any other business, but it is limited by circumstances on what can be shared.  It does not like conducting the nation’s business in this way, but assurances are given today that when it is timely and appropriate to share all associated details and the accompanying rationales, it will do so and do so fully and unambiguously.

It is confident that Guyanese will be satisfied that the matter was handled in the best interests of the country.  This is the advice and guidance furnished by outside counsel and other experts.  The government believes that this is sound counsel, and is what is being followed, given the situation on the ground and a host of other sensitivities all with national implications.

Regrettably some things have to be kept under tight wrap for the time being.

I believe that that would have been the better way than outright secrecy, silence, and denials, as was found convenient then.  It is what I would have done. I do not see that there would have been any harm in alerting vigilant citizens and suspicious parties, through what amounts to a preemptive initiative.  I am certain, also, that this could have contributed to a barrage of criticisms, and even more speculations, but the government would have gone on record as having taken the early road and a high road.  It may not have been a necessarily clear one.  Having not done so then, the floodgates are opened now with the worst evils imaginable taking flight.

Not surprisingly, the government is now forced to engage in the equivalent of a defensive withdrawal, and under heavy fire.  All of this could have been avoided from the get-go.  I am of the firm opinion (and have some insights) that the government had solid reasons to lock down some sensitive information developments, including those involving money.  I support its decision to do so, as I would have done the same.  I disagree, though, with how it went about presenting its position.

Yours faithfully,

GHK Lall

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