I am a communications consultant and freelance writer; a profession that suited my previous remote location on the Linden Highway. Three years ago I began writing for a local newspaper and about a year after that I applied for a full time communications position at ExxonMobil. I was unsuccessful in that instance but was fortunate enough to be recognized and offered a contract as a freelance writer. So, my name is on the recently released list of local contractors for ExxonMobil by the DPI.
Whether or not I believe the list should have been released, one thing that I feel strongly about is the response from those who pushed for its publication; that the list is “padded” with individuals. I have a couple of questions; how is my income any different than that of a business? If I was to choose a name for my services and set up a business would the money I earn be going anywhere else? ExxonMobil pays me to provide a service as they do to any of the other registered businesses. My wages are spent on the same thing most business owners spend their money on; food, clothes and schooling for my children, living costs, bills, rent and taxes. Just because I offer my service as an individual does not change the fact that the money spent by ExxonMobil is going into a local pocket which in turn supports more local business.
There was skepticism out there when the public heard of the high numbers of companies and contractors that had benefited from the operations here in Guyana; there was a call for those names to be released. Contrary to practice anywhere else in the world, the list was made public and when indeed the numbers were verified, of course there was new critique about who was on the list. Well I am a name on that list, I earn my living by providing a service to ExxonMobil and I am therefore eligible to be included as local spend. I benefit, as do direct employees, and so do most of you. My income goes right back out to more local businesses. How can the money being spent and circulated into the Guyanese economies be seen as anything other than a benefit? Every dollar that ExxonMobil spends in Guyana aids our economy.
When you work for a company that shows you first hand, as I have seen, its intent, willingness and commitment to building local content in its deed and action, it is extremely frustrating to then be faced day after day with criticisms to those actions. I have the same concerns as other Guyanese about this emerging industry. I have the same hopes for my children growing up. I am wishing for a better life for my family and friends, with better schools, better health care, better roads, and better jobs. So please do not be fooled into thinking I write this letter in protection of my contract, please know that my loyalty lies with those who will operate in a way that protects that better future and I would hold accountable those who do not.
The industry is new and there is bound to be some confusion and limited knowledge so I urge people to focus on the facts, do not get caught up in the scaremongering, be optimistic about the future. There may be much you don’t know, and much you hear secondhand but you can read the list for yourself to see that ExxonMobil have honoured their promise and have been investing in locals. This is just the beginning and there is already clear evidence of benefits. From someone who spends her days researching, I am confident more is to come.
I am proud to be part of a company that in my own experience conducts itself in a manner I feel secure in having my name associated with, whether it be on that list, or at the bottom of this page.
Contractor for ExxonMobil