Guyanese do not be distracted by self-serving persons

Dear Editor,
“There are people out there who are not captured by any safety net, things are unbelievably hard for them and we have to work harder to give them help now and create opportunities.” This is what Priya Manickchand said after her first day of Operation Recovery, an exercise by her Ministry to seek out children who were absent from the NGSA mock exams and those who were absent from school for a prolonged period. Anyone claiming to be an ‘activist’ should share/endorse these sentiments; therefore, it is repulsive to see a few working assiduously against Guyanese interests whilst claiming that title.
To ask Barbadian PM Mia Mottley to shut down the oil & gas sector before it delivers on its promise of betterment for all Guyanese is (in my view) treasonous and an affront to the nation which is on a path to becoming among the wealthiest (per capita) in the world; the betrayal is especially keen to the vulnerable. That the list of persons who signed the missive is populated by the comfortable middle class who all power their lives by fossil fuel is simply salt in the wound. There was the proud boast from Trinidad that they have been an oil-producing nation for over 120 years, which is longer than Alfred Bhulai & Janet Bulkan (the oldest signatories) have been alive and yet I never saw a letter asking anyone to shut down the oil industry in the twin-island republic; I don’t see a resignation letter from another signatory, a company that specialises in building and maintenance of fossil fuel generating sets, none on the list lives ‘off the grid’, their children enjoy the benefits of fossil fuel electricity.
Sadly, these armchair activists are not the worst offenders against our nation.
Local Content Laws were finally passed on December 29, 2021, six years and seven months after the announcement of the commercial discovery by ExxonMobil. Before the law was enacted, there was the noticeable exclusion of local companies and workers in the rapidly developing sector, voices were raised from all quarters to get the Granger Administration to protect Guyanese interests to no avail. With the legislation mandating all companies operating in the extractive sector to comply with Act, it is appalling to learn that Guyanese are working with foreign companies in nefarious attempts to bypass the local content provisions; some well-known activists/lawyers/accountants fume daily about the Liza PSA and then advise companies to issue a class of unpaid shares that accrue no dividend but can show that over 50 per cent of the shares in a company are owned by Guyanese. What these persons may not be aware of is that if/when those foreign companies are held criminally responsible for making false statutory declarations it is common practice for them to in turn bring suit against the advisors.
Editor, environmental issues are important to all of us but so is our daily bread; the Low Carbon Development Strategy remains the gold standard for the entire world and it includes growth and sustainability for all Guyanese. There is a real danger that environmental concerns will be dismissed by the public when the realisation comes that the “environmentalists” are anti-poor in their agenda of no gold mining, no logging, no oil, no, no, no. There is a window of opportunity to make use of oil production and its proceeds for the benefit of Guyanese; we cannot allow ourselves to be distracted by the those who are self-serving in our midst. I draw on the words of Ghanaian visionary Kwame Nkrumah “forwards ever, backward never”.

Robin Singh