Where are the internal control systems to look after Guyana’s oil and gas interest?

Dear Editor,

In 2016, some 36 percent of the revenue of the entire nation of Mongolia came from just one company — a copper mine. In such a situation, transparency and accountability are paramount because of the risks.  As a first step, the Mongolian government published the contract immediately upon signing.  Some 30 countries in the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) have together disclosed more than 800 massive contracts. So why was Team Granger so reticent about practicing good governance?  Even after the oil and gas contracts were published, the world did not end for the Guyanese people? But Team Granger and their financial shenanigans were properly exposed.

This now brings me to another big question, when will Guyana see the feasibility study on the gas pipeline that Minister David Patterson promised to release? Back in December 2017, Exxon’s Upstream Country Manager Doug Mc Gehee, indicated to local stakeholders that his company was in fact currently studying the feasibility of having available natural gas brought onshore in order to power an envisioned power plant.  Seven months have elapsed and the Guyanese people cannot see the feasibility study.  Are we walking into another dark and secret contract that will give away another chunk of Guyana’s resources?

There are many arguments in favour of publishing State executed contracts. Transparency prevents corruption and it helps build trust between the decision-makers and the people.  Irrespective that the contract signed by Minister Raphael Trotman provided pennies on the pound for an entire nation (Guyana), its publication provided pertinent information to the analyst community to ensure that the politicians are kept on their toes because they must never be trusted.

Secondly, when one compares the US$18 million sign-on bonus for an entire nation to the US$10 million given to one NGO to do less than 5% of the environmental load of the nation, you can understand that Guyana got robbed blindly. 

I must commend the Leader of the Opposition Mr. Jagdeo for confirming that his party, the PPP will not interfere with the current contract when they win the 2020 elections; that was the mature action. The newly published New York Times article (dated July 20, 2018) exposes how tattered Guyana’s reputation remains globally and to add that we do not respect signed contracts would also do further damage to that reputation.

Can you imagine a Minister in Team Granger signed a contract that obligated the taxpayers to honour the corporate tax commitments of this investment?  Would this not limit the scope for Guyana to improve its tax collection?

What this Granger Government does not know and may never know is how much is being made, under what terms and by whom. Until and unless we leverage the full potential of this contract, Guyana will never know the facts.  So an entire nation and its government are clueless on the future cash flows and this has created tons of consulting time for the consulting companies to sell their services to the investors who are trying their best to paint a bright picture on this great swindle.

In such a situation, where are the internal control systems to look after Guyana’s interest? 

Yours faithfully,

Sasenarine Singh

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