…Cabinet-commissioned Clyde & Co Report also damning
While the recent withdrawal of a damning report into his handling of the oil and gas sector has given former Natural Resources Minister Raphael Trotman cause to celebrate, oil and gas commentator Christopher Ram is saying “not so fast.”
At a Murray House-facilitated panel discussion on Saturday, Attorney-at-Law Ram discussed a number of issues regarding the sector. One particular issue he addressed was the international Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) Global Witness’ decision to backtrack from a damning report they previously issued about the former Government.
“The decision by Global Witness to withdraw its report, for whatever reason, has not only undermined the cause and effort of the domestic and NGO community, but it leaves you to wonder about the reason that they gave. And it was not surprising that Minister Trotman of the APNU immediately claimed the (report) was a political hatchet job,” Ram said.
The report in question, titled “Signed Away” was written and released last year by Global Witness, an international organisation with a long track record of exposing corruption and human rights abuses.
Among its recommendations was for Guyana’s Government to investigate the role played by the Natural Resources Minister in brokering the deal. The report had claimed that Trotman arrived at the oil company’s headquarters in Texas in April 2016 and that Guyana was given 10 weeks to sign a new draft licence. When it comes to Trotman himself, the report questioned how much time he spent negotiating.
But in a statement a few days ago, the London-based Global Witness said that it was withdrawing the report which had claimed that the former Government’s lack of negotiating skills cost Guyana US$55 billion.
Global Witness had attributed its decision to its heightened focus on climate change. However, Trotman wasted little time in releasing a statement lambasting Global Witness for its report and even accusing the NGO of election meddling.
During the panel discussion, Ram reminded that the former A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) Government had commissioned a report from British law firm Clyde and Company, which he described as equally damning as the Global Witness report of their handling of the oil and gas sector.
“The Clyde report is an even more damning report… and it was commissioned by the APNU/AFC,” Ram noted, adding that it painted a very unflattering picture of certain persons within the former Government.
Clyde and Company was contracted by the former Government in 2019 to review the agreement and the process that was followed. According to excerpts from the report, it was found that the former Government did not press for better fiscal terms even though they could have.
“The Government could have taken a different approach and tried to have extensive negotiations on the terms of the 2016 Agreement, principally to improve the fiscal terms. However, such an approach was not in the forefront of the Government’s mind. The Government was more focused on ensuring continuity with the Contractor Consortium and achieving progress in the Stabroek Block,” the Clyde and Company report had said. (G3)