Although Guyanese can benefit from the experience and skills which foreigners in the oil and gas industry and the energy sector bring to the table, too many initiatives are being led by the international experts, while locals are being overshadowed in this regard.
This is according to Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo, who recently told the media that the APNU/AFC caretaker government will be facilitating the Guyana International Petroleum Exhibition (GIPEX 2019) where foreigners are going to be setting the pace of the country’s progress and other opportunities that would stem from Guyana having a budding oil and gas industry.
“From in the Department of Energy to everywhere else…the foreigners, we have to capitalise on their experience, both in terms of the provision of services and advice but it must all be advisory to a unit in government that is indigenously, nationally determined, this advice must come in and be processed along the lines of what is good for our people. That must be the primary concern and of course ensuring that those who invest in Guyana get a decent return too for their investment,” Jagdeo told a news conference.
According to the Opposition Leader, the cost to be a participant in the GIPEX 2019 event is extremely high and that while foreigners are willing and can pay the sum stipulated, locals most likely cannot afford this and the result is that that locals will be unable to participate.
This, he said, is another example of the caretaker government abusing State resources to fit its agenda.
He also signalled the intention of the People’s Progressive Party/ Civic (PPP/C) to stage a protest against the GIPEX 2019 activity, which is slated for November 20 to November 22.
“So this group from abroad will come and try to define the oil and gas sector for us too. That is what is happening now. The Government has farmed us out to foreigners so you are going to have Granger make a nice great speech and let me make it clear, maybe we will protest this event, protest the waste of money, the waste of money that is taking place now, this one. So I am putting the sponsors on notice too, you could very well see a protest against the abuse of State resources,” the Opposition Leader said.
He further stated that although the programme for GIPEX states that the US Secretary on Energy will be in attendance and delivering an address at GIPEX 2019, the PPP/C has already confirmed that he will not be coming to Guyana for that event.
“So this is part of their marketing tool to get people to pay the fees for the conference and then the highlight of it, they may want to come and listen to the US Secretary of Energy, he is not coming. Well nobody will come for the opening address for his Excellency Mr Granger but he (Granger) will be there…” Jagdeo said.
Spending State’s money
The Opposition Leader reiterated that the APNU/AFC Government is illegal and, therefore, should not be spending State money, especially to host such an event at this time. He added that situations like these have to be brought to light to stakeholders and the international community as part of the process in ensuring free and fair elections in Guyana come 2020.
Meanwhile, GIPEX, in a press statement, said that the event allows for “maximisation of local participation” and claims that taxpayers do not fund it. Additionally, the daughter of one senior Government minister is also sitting in one of the top seats of the entity that is organising this event.
The release also confirmed that an influx of foreigners specialised in the oil and gas industry are expected this year.
“The event is being organised by UK-based Valiant Business Media in collaboration with the Department of Energy, Ministry of the Presidency, with support from Guyana Office for Investment (GO-Invest)… with the participation of more than 600 delegates and well over 175 companies in 2018, GIPEX 2019 is poised to attract and engage the biggest players in the oil and gas industry as the country moves closer to first oil,” the statement from the company revealed.