Jagdeo bemoans lack of info on energy dep’t, petroleum commission

Leader of the Opposition Bharrat Jagdeo yesterday said that his party’s concern about the soon-to-be established Department of Energy is the paucity of information that has been provided about its mandate and structure.

“We know very little about the structure of the department and its mandate and how it will conflict with or complement the Petroleum Commission,” he told a press conference at the Office of the Leader of the Opposition in Queenstown, Georgetown, where he was asked for his views on Dr. Mark Bynoe’s appointment by President David Granger as head of the department.

“I don’t want to be judgmental about Guyanese, especially young professionals. I think we have a lot of bright people,” Jagdeo said.

He added that he met Bynoe a few times when he was working with the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (5Cs) in Belize. He was the former head of the Project Development and Management of the 5Cs.  “From what I know of him, he seems technically sound,” Jagdeo said.

Nevertheless, he added that he did not know whether Bynoe has the expertise in the energy sector. “I have not studied his CV (curriculum vitae). They did not ask us about it. I don’t know if he has the particular skill or skillset to manage this department. While he might be an excellent professional, if he doesn’t have the skillset, then we are going to be in problems,” he further stated.

Jagdeo said his main concern is not so much Bynoe’s appointment but the mandates of the Department of Energy and that of the Petroleum Commission.

“We have a Petroleum Commission Bill before the Parliament. What will be the responsibility of this department? What will be the responsibility of the Petroleum Commission? That is supposed to be another technical body. How much political influence will be exerted on this department?

These are concerns we will seek to get answers to,” he said.     

On Tuesday, Minister of State in the Ministry of the Presidency Joseph Harmon confirmed that Bynoe had been appointed to head the department and that he would be taking up the position this week.

It was reported that Bynoe was handpicked for the job contrary to recommendations for the post to be advertised globally.

According to former Presidential Adviser Jan Mangal, the candidate for the post should have been someone “with international gravitas, someone who could challenge the likes of (former US Secretary of State and former head of ExxonMobil) Rex Tillerson, for example who was comfortable talking (oil and gas) with ministers from the major producing countries and the top executives from the major oil companies.”

Bynoe holds a PhD in environmental economics from the University of East Anglia, a master of science degree in resource management from the University of Edinburgh, a post graduate diploma in development studies and a bachelor of arts degree in geography/economics from the University of Guyana, and a certificate in environmental economics and policy analysis from the Harvard Institute of International Development at Harvard University.

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