We will be liberated economically by our oil resources

Dear Editor,

Most of the criticisms of the Exxon contract are based on understandable logic but we must look a little further. I criticized the oil contract on the basis of its benefits to our welfare, but now the critics have plunged themselves into an area that I can best use the metaphor of gender to clearly illustrate. The critics have descended to a female ‘slap can yard’ yard buse out that is driven by a not-all-the-truth considered, emotional gossip-driven surge, [remember reader that I am using a gender metaphor] the male yard critic applies the following ‘Yuh do po’stupidness, if I was you I woulda do this or that, tell me why yuh do it suh?”

The current critics lack the suggestions for a way forward nor have they provided any indication on how it can be adjusted from their rational perspective within the confines of that industry, we cannot present an exclusive lobby of criticisms founded exclusively in the ‘Republic of Georgetown.’ Expanding the landscape requires a short historical memory of our post- independence history, the prospect of oil is not new to Guyana, but it was deferred by a hazy claim by Venezuela that cannot even be used rationally on a board game. Yet it was enforced to keep any investment from happening, because they could physically do it, their nationhood is over a hundred years ahead of us, a population of some twenty-three million; with by the terms of the CARICOM group a robust military, air force, and navy. They have the manpower and the wealth, we had the curse of the inherited ‘Six Sisters’ that we never had the resources to expand its by-products, when the not publicly discussed oil crisis of the seventies demolished especially third world non-oil producing countries like Guyana.

We eventually became a market economy under Hoyte, but the cost of oil had already demolished our manufacturing sector, our business sector is largely comprised of services, and wealthy vendors with real estate, we became a HIPC [Highly Indebted Poor Country] under the PPP.

Oil contracts are not easily prudent as the history demonstrates, nor is Exxon child’s play. But at the recent conclusion of the massive oil conference I saw Chris Ram on TV with a relaxed and optimistic expression conclude that “We will all benefit”. The ultimate benefit to me is a conclusion of the Venezuelan border controversy,  that has become entrenched political mythology in that country, enough that though both Chavez and Maduro described it as a colonial anomaly, neither had the courage to kill the myth, and myths are hard to kill when legally politicized. I know that this Government will continue to engage Exxon. The evidence that oil is a turbulent modern economic phenomenon rests in the fact that it was only in May 2015 that African countries held a policy dialogue meeting at the UN Conference Centre in Addis Ababa on the challenges faced with petroleum and mining contract negotiations, our situation is unique, but we are not alone, regardless, we will be liberated economically by our oil resources.

Yours faithfully,

Barry Braithwaite

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