The cluelessness of this PNC-led Government knows no bounds when it comes to economic decision-making that would redound to Guyana’s development. Or is it really cluelessness? On the contract Trotman “negotiated” with those IOCs, we all know he can give Basil Williams a run for his money for cluelessness. But, even then, can we really believe that, after he’d gone to Tanzania to learn how they were dealing with their new petroleum find and saw they negotiated a 15% royalty from the IOCs, he could boast about a 2% rate for us??
As old people would say, “something na regulah” here. But let’s put that aside for a while and move on. After all, Trotman was put out to pasture in “Natural Resources”, where he’s hassling woodcutters about how loud they’re supposed to be yelling, “Timber!!” Fast forward to the present, where we have an environmentalist (Bynoe) in charge of the Energy Agency and an energy maven (Adams) in charge of Environment, and you begin to have an inkling what’s afoot in the biggest thing to’ve hit Guyana since the Dutch cleared all those mangrove swamps to literally create “Guyana”: OIL!
Now, if nothing else our history – starting with those same Dutchmen – should’ve taught us, it is that when it comes to “exploiting” our resources, everyone’s looking out for number one. And we ain’t even number 100!! The word “underdevelopment” – in which outsiders pretty much take out riches back to their country to “add value” and leave us holding wood – was pretty much invented here in the West Indies. We were oars of the “resource” to be exploited! With Independence, the thrust was to get more of that “value” into our coffers and into the pockets of ordinary folks. The small man was to become the real man!!
Burnham, supported by Jagan, nationalised our resources: sugar, bauxite and the “commanding heights of the economy”. But we know that failed miserably, and the country ended up debt-ridden, and we, the people, even more poverty stricken that ever. Nationalisation wasn’t the way to reach the “good life”. And we arrive at the present model of “exploiting” natural resources like oil in poor countries like Guyana.
The big multinational does the groundwork and exploration, and if there’s a “find”, the host country has two ways of benefiting. One is from the “production contract” that extracts bonuses, royalty and profit sharing, and wherein we know we lost out big time. The second is from “local content” – which is basically to have our local companies and citizens get a piece of the action in ancillary and downstream areas to the primary production.
And this is where we are now getting “local larwah!!”
But it’s not too late to stop us from being raped for another century. Apart from Exxon, no IOC can say Guyana was a “frontier” country, where the risks of sinking hundreds of millions under the sea and coming up dry were very high. Surely, Tullow can’t say that…especially since their production agreement came AFTER the Exxon contract. The whole area had been comprehensively “derisked”.
This is one contract that must be renegotiated. Even Trotman couldn’t defend the 1% bonus, and confessed he’d been “instructed” to sign the contract. There must be an investigation to discover who ordered the signing; and after jailing him, we must get back to the negotiating table.
But the whole area of “local content” avenue to get a piece of the action is still open to us. We now have the third draft of such a policy issued by Bynoe, and you can immediately see that he’s clueless, since he accepted terms that even a novice energy man would’ve thrown up.
The good people of Guyana have to insist they don’t want more larwah!!
Look who accompanied caretaker President Granger to the meeting with the Carter Center. Yup!! The same individual making all sorts of authoritative policy statements: Dawn Hastings-Williams.
She at least may bring votes to the table!!