The regime is misleading the Guyanese people

Dear Editor,

The PNC led APNU+AFC 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.

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 ExxonMobil for the disaster they have made in handling the oil agreement. If we want to be generous to say they are not making 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 intoxication with power that is showing in sheer arrogance. From 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 recommendation not considered?

On the basis of 2% royalty and if we assume an oil price of 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 of 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 counsel 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’s 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 worse 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.

This regime’s action in relation to the collection of funds is also very disturbing. For more than a year they collected US$18M in a 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 separate account.

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 Com-mercial Limited (NICIL), Guyana Geo-logy 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 Fiscal Management Accountability 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 Consolidated 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, and 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 bound by that. That is simply not true.

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 falsehood. Only recently this regime allocated blocks to other companies.

Knowing all of these things our people have a right to be extremely worried about the failure of this regime to establish the Sovereign Wealth Fund. So far, they have even failed to put out a statement of principles.

Coupled with this is the fact that the minister has enormous powers in the draft Petroleum Commission Bill. The minister has the power to appoint the board, and if the board is not appointed, he has concentrated in his/her hands 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.

People must stand up before it is too late.

Yours faithfully,

Donald Ramotar

Former President

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