It has been reported that Minister of State Joe Harmon, purportedly on behalf of the Government of Guyana, has said the contract between ExxonMobil’s local subsidiary will not be subject to any change. A government speaks on behalf of the people and its legitimacy to so articulate comes from the people. The position taken by the APNU+AFC administration, amidst the growing and loud expression of disquiet among the people as to whether Guyana received the best deal or not, is not being tempered by prudent pronouncements.
The parties who are in government today, campaigned on a commitment of governing consistent with inclusionary democracy, but are yet to call in the stakeholders, including the parliamentary opposition, to address their concerns about the contract. This matter is not only about whether persons are satisfied with the contract or not, but more importantly to uphold the principal objective of the political system of respecting their right to involvement.
Government may very well have justifiable reasons as to the positions it has taken and what may have shaped the contract, but to refuse to address the concerns of the people who they are elected to represent is unacceptable and a breach of the contract with the people. It is this type of treatment that creates public confrontation between government and the people.
In politics when you are in government it is never considered wise to say you are not going to do what the people are calling for, for you could create the type of groundswell that is inimical to your own interest. Further, in this instance if cause arises that requires engagement in reviewing the content of the contract the company can hold government to its word or deem it a partner lacking credibility and integrity.
Where this contract has been signed by government on behalf of the people, that pronouncement has sealed the fate of the people to even question the management of a resource that belongs to them. This is the kind of situation that creates what some term the curse of oil, because it feeds the cancer of arrogance and leads to internal and external conflicts and abuses.
This government continues to behave as though it doesn’t care about governing after 2020. Never before has there been a group of people who achieved political power and national goodwill but are seemingly doing everything to give it up.