Oil conversation and the Diaspora

Dear Editor,
With so many anticipations, proposals, suggestions, doubts, uncertainties, concerns, questions and queries arising to shroud the transparency of the oil industry, one salient fact remains remarkably opaque and firmly unchallenged. David Granger, Raphael Trotman and the entire APNU/AFC party signed a lopsided contract riddled with propensities advantageous only to Exxon. Trotman was wined and dined at the expense of Exxon in Texas and anyone can logically conclude what obviously transpired.
The cabal agreed to sell out the rights and interests of Guyana; they denied Guyanese from being awarded revenues enjoyed by other countries as per international standard; that party enriched the new colonial master and shackled Guyanese to a different sovereignty, saddling us with their expenses and leaving us with mere pittance as handout. APNU/AFC party accepted a paltry US$18 million signing bonus and further hid that from the public, only confessing after being caught and exposed. That contract may be renegotiated but only if Exxon agrees to that request.
But because of the binding clauses, Exxon will not shoulder anything detrimental to its welfare or bear any cost that will affect its interest. One concrete conclusion Guyanese can walk away with from this sweetheart deal is that the APNU/AFC party must not be trusted ever again to negotiate for the interest of Guyana and represent Guyanese to bargain for their welfare. They will certainly sell out our birthrights and only serve their personal interest. This is an established fact as evidenced by the oil contract and history has established a paper trail documenting their corrupt methodology as being their legacy. As such, any fair-minded Guyanese will unhesitatingly refuse to accept the APNU/AFC leadership and will not agree to be governed by that party ever again.
A question to ponder is, how dependent are the “reliable” data sources pertaining to published information regarding the ramifications of the oil industry? Are we being fed both sides of the story and are we being educated in-depth or partially spoon-fed? Everyone has their own agenda and is serving a different master and purpose! The original problem was created from doubts at the very inception. The issuance of shares for blocks were clouded and shrouded. Sales and transfers are beyond Guyana’s control and knowledge with no return to the coffer.
Raphael Trotman was wined and dined in Texas at the behest and expense of Exxon. To sign an absurd contract and ignore all expert warnings and professional advice and without the knowledge of Guyanese paints a glowing picture of high speculation. It’s an open secret who got what from the contract; one that handcuffs the hands of Guyanese; one that shackles the feet; one that hangs an albatross on the neck; one that leaves the blind at the edge of a pit; one that creates a monster all over again as a new colonial master. It’s not a matter of the Government can’t or wouldn’t renegotiate, but, the problem of the ridiculous clauses stipulated and agreed to by the greed and selfish APNU/AFC party, bearing unfavourable repercussions!
The gas-to-shore project is already riddled with controversial speculations, reservations and provides little transparency. But it also envisages high anticipation and mutual benefits, whether declared or undeclared. Unless the public is meticulously enlightened and kept abreast perpetually as per each step, doubts and despairs will determine how detrimental any diversion will dictate.
A factor grossly being overlooked is that oil failed to generate a net US$300 million in revenue last year. The money gained is secured in a Natural Resource Fund kept by the New York Federal Reserve Bank and awaiting legislation regarding its withdrawal and usage. Whether it’s sitting accumulating interest only is uncertain. Now, in comparison, remittances received from the Diaspora surpassed this amount, without any expense incurred by the Government.
This large sum of money has already been channelled and filtered down directly to the pockets of Guyanese and recycled in the economy of the nation, benefitting all and sundry, directly and indirectly. Whether it is productively and carefully utilised is another matter, but hopefully not wasted on unnecessariness. Consideration should be encouraged and entertained by the Government to harness monetary input from the Diaspora and invest this capital in a fund that can be productive for the benefit of needy communities. Other countries, India for example, have capitalised tremendously on such an idea.
There are approximately 500,000 related Guyanese overseas. Using a hypothetical case as surmised by Dr Tara Singh, if 500,000 contribute US$10 in a year, or, if 1 per cent ie 5000 invest US$1000 each in this scheme, it will account for US$5 million converted to G$1.1 billion. Now, this money could be managed by the Government to expedite significant projects identified, and help Guyanese living in areas which are in need of dire help, desperate and urgent care and attention. The initiative lies with the Government to reach out to the Diaspora. This is one area which should not be ignored but explored. The Dutch Disease is not a myth but a potential reality.

Jai Lall