An oversight committee is needed

Dear Editor,
The recent fiasco over the audit of Exxon is a clear indication that the current structure in place to manage the oil sector is inadequate.
The Minister and the Ministry over the sector have too much power, and as a result, they have made decisions that an oversight committee would have prevented. This committee must include the GRA, Members of Parliament from both sides of the aisle, experts on the oil industry, and climate change/environmental experts.
There is an obvious lack of accountability within the Ministry, and the mismanagement is concerning. Even former President Jagdeo’s instructions were abandoned and ignored. We must ensure that there is a clear process in place, with the necessary safeguards to avoid the mixed messages being sent to Exxon and other suppliers. The lack of clarity and the willingness to bypass the designated authorities to cut a more beneficial deal for Exxon would now lead to more expenditures for the country, due to arbitration. It would also risk bringing into question the competence of the GRA.
Going forward, there must be a clear and unified response to suppliers in the sector. Anyone who usurps the authority of the officials in charge of a given stage of the audit process and the wider management process of the sector must be dealt with swiftly and decisively. This sector doesn’t belong to the privileged few, but to all Guyanese. No individual should be allowed to reap personal benefits by undermining the integrity of our Government. An official review of what took place and a financial audit of the Ministry should be a part of the next steps to determine the root cause and corrective actions needed to prevent such a fiasco or a variant of it from recurring in the future.

Jamil Changlee