In a single contract the government has sold out the assets of Guyana

Dear Editor,

(Out of respect for the office of the President, and because it was critical of the President, I sent the following amended letter to President Granger for any comments he may have had. Six weeks have passed without a reply, and I therefore ask you to publish this letter.)

Long before the Guyana government signed the recent oil deal with ExxonMobil, that company’s track record was available on the internet for all to see. One report states, “In one of the biggest bribery scandals faced by a US corporation in recent decades, officials of Mobil Oil (later merged with Exxon in 1998) were accused of paying and receiving bribes related to oil contracts in Kazakhstan.” Another report observed that in 2009 Exxon paid $600 million to the Nigerian government to renew three lucrative oil licences, even though the Chinese had offered to pay six times that amount! This matter is currently under investigation by Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission. These reports revealed three warning signals: That ExxonMobil allegedly paid bribes, allegedly received bribes, and contracted to pay way below market value. And there are many more such examples in other countries.

One would have therefore thought that with all this available knowledge, the government would have secured the services of the best experts in the field and would have exercised extreme caution in all dealings with this industrial behemoth.

Unbelievably, this is what the Coalition’s 2015 Manifesto had promised us: The Coalition will appoint a group of experts to undertake an in-depth review of all major contracts entered into or approved by the Government of Guyana…  It is therefore beyond belief that the Granger government should have gone into a deal with this biggest giant in the industry without the advice of even one world expert in the field. Having voted for the Coalition, I feel betrayed, and consider this a major breach of contract with the nation, as well as a serious dereliction of duty.

Scarcely a day passes without an adverse comment on this matter in the public media against ExxonMobil. But more criticism should be levelled at President David Granger and the Minister of Natural Resources, Mr Raphael Trotman, and the Coalition as a whole, for their abysmal failure in fairly negotiating the most complex and far-reaching contract in Guyana’s history. Similar to his irresolute action on the drugs bond scandal, President Granger, who repeatedly promised us good governance, has again shown his inability to make good on his promises.

Ultimately, therefore, the buck has to stop at the President, as he should have been privy to all the details of the contract. He claims to be a Burnhamist, but President Burnham, nationalist that he was, would never have entered into such a lop-sided deal with ExxonMobil.

We are constantly reminded of how corrupt the PPP government has been in their twenty-three years in office. Yet the Granger government, in only three years, and in just one deal, has surpassed the collective effect of the financial excesses of the previous regime. In this single contract, they have sold out the assets of Guyana, made our people unwitting dupes, and have subjected us to a new form of colonialism – this time of our own making. Unless that ExxonMobil contract is revisited, history will judge this government and its leader accordingly.

Yours faithfully,

Clairmont Lye

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