EYEWITNESS: Horse manure…

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…on oil developments

Citizens are finally waking up to what your humble Eyewitness has been warning about for almost two years now: Guyanese must be told about details of the production contract the Government’s signed with Exxon.

One analyst just complained the just revealed two per cent royalty rate is just too low. The original contract, signed in 1999, was to last for 10 years with two three-year extensions…bringing the expiration to 2015 – just when oil was struck.

Just in time for the new deal to be negotiated with the new government. Your Eyewitness doesn’t believe there was any gunman on any knoll when JFK was assassinated – and in general, doesn’t give too much credence to conspiracy theories.

But on this one, he has to wonder! Hey, Dear Reader, your Eyewitness has been around the block and then some in the world of business.

It’s not by accident their motto is “caveat emptor” – buyers beware! It’s the same sign that should be hung on the necks of tigers and lions – they have no malice in their hearts when they snap the necks of their prey. That’s just the way they were made. Businesses will do what it takes to make the most profits. And as far as the well-published “contributions”? They get to write them off their profits as tax deductions!!

So we have to expect that Exxon will bargain with no holding back…and so should we. No hard feelings!! While landlocked Uganda – which we were partnered with to be tutored on oil – differed on the extraction of oil part, their economics was spot on when it came to observing the cardinal rule of taxation: “plucking the goose as to procure the largest quantity of feathers with the least possible amount of hissing.”

Even then, we pointed out that Uganda had a 12.5 per cent royalty – off the gross production – and Trotman should shoot for that. Why did we now learn that Trotman only got two per cent?? Unless it’s made up in other ways, that’s the lowest rate of royalty on oil production in the world!! Why? Did he renegotiate the “up to 75 per cent of the oil” that Exxon can claim to cover exploration and production costs (cost oil) down to the 40-50 per cent rate like Uganda??? And on the taxation of Exxon’s profit, did he raise it beyond our 27.5 per cent corporate rate?

If as, we suspect, the answer is “NO!”, we’ve gotten the short end of the stick and that explains why Trotman’s so coy about the contract’s details. The big question is still “why?”.
Sherlock Holmes advised, “Eliminate all other factors, and the one which remains must be the truth.”

Conspiracy? Or venality?

…and protection

On assuming office, the Government promised to throw everything – including the kitchen sink – at the crime wave then washing over the land. Your Eyewitness soon realised they probably meant that literally. They claimed they’d “received credible information related to a potential domestic security threat and will be putting troops in certain targeted areas…Citizens can expect to see helicopters providing aerial coverage…drones, surveillance cameras, etc, etc”.

But what warmed the cockles of the hearts of citizens was their vow to bring back horses and dogs in the fight against crime. All those weaponry and armament scared citizens, but horses and dogs, ironically, “humanised” the crime fighters.

But now we learn while $1 million was paid for a horse, both the horse and the money have disappeared!! While the details are kinda sketchy, your Eyewitness wonders if the horse was spirited away by rustlers.

Your Eyewitness expects that some of our crack (NOT “cracked”) crime sleuths would pick up the trail of the purloined horse!

…and money laundering

Seems the Ministry of Public Security paid $7.5 million up front for an “industrial washing machine” to handle the laundry from the Camp St Jail – but never received the machine.
Apart from prisoners wearing dingy clothes, is this a case of “money laundering” for SOCU?

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