As petroleum adviser, most of my time was spent challenging proposals and strategies of some high-level gov’t officials

Dear Editor,

On the 18-Jun-2018 the Kaieteur News indicated that Dr Jan Mangal (petroleum adviser to the President from Mar-2017 to Mar-2018) recommended the investigation of the award of petroleum blocks which occurred under the previous government.  Then a few days later on the 22-Jun-2018 the Kaieteur News ran an article which suggested Dr Mangal was criticising the former government so as to curry favour with the current government, with the objective of being re-engaged as petroleum adviser to the President.

In the coming weeks Dr Mangal will do the following via his social media pages and submissions to the local press:

1. He will show that he did not try to curry favour with the current government in the hope of being re-engaged as an adviser.

2. He will show that his interest and actions on the issue of previous awards predated the end of his tenure as adviser to the President.  That is, his call for an investigation is not a recent phenomenon.

3. He will outline the mechanism used by some oil companies and their local friends (in government and in the private sector) to defraud needy people in countries around the world, like in Guyana. 

The first item is addressed below in this note.

Dr Mangal believes his actions taken in the role of petroleum adviser proves that he was not trying to curry favour with anyone, including the President.  Dr Mangal’s objective was only to satisfy his remit from the President, which was to help ensure the oil and gas industry benefits the people of Guyana, especially the poor, the youth and future generations.  To maximise Dr Mangal’s chances of success of achieving the President’s objective, he adopted four simple principles for the role:

1. Dr Mangal would not use the role of adviser to the President as a means to land another job.  If he did, then he would compromise his objective as he would be trying to curry favour with foreign oil companies or international donor agencies, as opposed to looking out for the interests of the people of Guyana.

2. Dr Mangal would not use the role of adviser to the President as a means to make friends and had to accept that he would annoy many in positions of power (both in government and outside).  Most of Dr Mangal’s time in the role was spent challenging proposals and strategies of some high-level government officials.  But please remember that things would be worse if behaviours witnessed under previous governments were as prevalent under this government.  For a start, most previous Presidents would not tolerate an independent adviser who challenged government officials and their proposals.  The President never tried to influence the advice being provided by Dr Mangal, and this was so even after the adviser’s presentation to students at the University of Guyana (where Dr Mangal was critical of aspects of the contract for the Stabroek Block with Exxon).  The President’s main focus was in helping the adviser by always requesting sufficient data to support the advice being provided.  It is unfortunate for Guyana that many others in government and the opposition do not share the President’s respect for data based decision-making.

3. Dr Mangal would not be looking to facilitate deals between the private sector and the government, as his focus needed to be on government and civil society.  For example, he received a call from someone overseas in the industry indicating that Dr Mangal could become filthy rich if he helped broker a deal between an oil company and the government (Dr Mangal responded negatively).  This type of request is not uncommon, and there are numerous Guyanese already acting as middle-men between foreign companies and the government (and many more aspiring jokers in the line), but these middle-men add zero value to the country, and only erode value from the country.

4. Dr Mangal accepted that his earnings during the role, although very high by Guyanese standards, would be a fraction of what he previously earned when in the private sector.   

Dr Mangal’s recommendation to investigate the award of petroleum blocks under the previous Government was made because most of the awards date from the previous Government.  He was not calling out the previous Government because of who they are, or were, but simply because most of the awards were made by them.  Please note one exception, which was the block awarded in 2016, but which it is believed was negotiated prior to the 2015 election but for which execution was delayed due to the change of government.  This award also should be included in any investigation. 

Yours faithfully,

Dr Jan Mangal

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