…planning on oil

There’s so much hype on our oil prospects by this Government, your Eyewitness has already predicted they will be caught with their own BS. Unfilled expectations can be a bitch! Raphael Trotman, even as he threw his hat into the leadership sweepstakes of the AFC, armed with his signing of the Nassau Protocol, once again has announced the “slew” of legislation he’s going to introduce for “the oil sector”. That’s right: “slew”!

The “slew” included: Oil and Gas Policy; the Revised Petroleum Act and Regulations; Local Content Policy and Regulations; Petroleum Commission Bill; Petroleum Taxation and Fiscal Legislation; Health, Safety and Environment (HSE) Regulations; and a Bill to provide for Sovereign Wealth/Generational Savings, Stabilisation, Infrastructural Social Welfare and Citizens Participation Fund. Whew! What a “slew”!!

But hold it! Wasn’t this “slew” of “legislation supposed to be submitted since last year? Or was it hijacked and “slain” since then? The Huffington Post had carried a story with the headline boldly announcing “‘Conflict: Tillerson would Write the Rules for Exxon’s Major Oil Find in Guyana”. Tillerson, of course, was until he was just nominated for the US Secretary of State gig, the head of Exxon and the story was referring to the “United States’ Energy Governance and Capacity Initiative (EGCI)” that had been working along with Trotman’s Natural Resource Ministry.

Trotman, of course, denied the claim but hasn’t offered any plausible reason for the delay in submitting the “slew” of legislation. All he said was EGCI had been in touch with the GoG since 2009 – implying they’d been “advising” on legislation since then. What a crock! Oil was only struck last March – just before the elections and there would’ve been as much need to draft oil legislation as to count the number of angels who could fit on the head of a needle!

Point of the matter, after declaring he and his Ministry would “renegotiate” with ExxonMobil, all that was done was to confirm the PPP’s 1999 agreement to just split the profit – rather than also imposing a 15 per cent royalty as Uganda had done. Point being that after taking out expenses – including exploration and development costs – precious little profit would be available to be split. Now the HuffPo article had specifically mentioned EGCI was working on “profit sharing agreements” with Guyana – where Exxon would receive up to 65 per cent of the profits because the Guyanese officials were absolutely clueless! Guyana, they declared was a “frontier” country – which is how they describe the home of modern “natives”!

…on Sovereignty Fund

Now even before he started talking about legislation for managing the oil industry, Trotman had bigged up a Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF) at a seminar in November 2015 specifically on that subject. The legislation for the SWF – which had been on the PPP’s manifesto in the elections earlier that year – was promised “soon”. At that time, he’d promised continued “consultations” across the country to flesh out the legislation. The SWF was to focus on three key areas, namely savings for future generations; budget support in times of economic downturns; and infrastructural development.

But without a single subsequent consultation, we now see that the goals of the SWF have now ballooned into a “Sovereign Wealth/Generational Savings, Stabilisation, Infrastructural Social Welfare and Citizens Participation Fund” – including budgetary support!!! Now of the scores of SWF’s in the world – especially blossoming in the post OPEC era, the major goal’s to save for tomorrow – not to spend the windfall as Burnham did with the sugar levy on funding Government’s hare-brained schemes and jobs for the boys.

From Trotman’s explicit rejection of the paradigmatic SWF, it’s clear they’ll just “follow the leadah” and return Guyana into perdition.

…alternative facts

Thankfully, the Trump Administration’s clarified their new epistemological nugget of “alternative facts”. The White House spinner…ooops!…spokesperson, said these are similar to “weather reports”. One fella says “chance of rain”…another says “chance of sunshine” – alternative facts!!