Guyanese cynical about oil and gas wealth – Dr Hinds

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…points to ongoing Govt scandals

With first oil expected next year, the excitement over the industry appears not to have caught on with the larger populace. According to political analyst, Dr David Hinds, this may have something to do with the perception of scandals plaguing the Government.

Dr Hinds made these comments on the Globespan 24/7 live show in New York on Saturday, titled integrity in politics. Hinds noted that citizens have a duty to be watchdogs over Government’s management of national resources, regardless of partisan affiliations.

Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo had previously revealed the fact that the husband of former Housing Minister Valarie Patterson-Yearwood had received contracts to construct houses. But Hinds questioned why it was left up to the Opposition Leader to reveal this when others knew but kept silent.

Dr David Hinds

“It is no wonder that people are cynical about the coming oil wealth,” Hinds said. “And we have not been able to generate in the society the kind of expectation, the kind of excitement, the kind of optimism that we need to generate.”

“It say to me that there is a lot of cynicism. And that while we charged the previous Government with engaging in conflicts of interest, we’ve done nothing to correct it. It says to me we shouldn’t depend on Government to correct Government wrongdoing.”

Jagdeo had disclosed at a press conference earlier this month that a sub-contractor went to him after he had exhausted efforts to collect his payments from the Minister’s husband. According to the Opposition Leader, the man had written President Granger four times over the past year for the Head of State’s intervention but only got acknowledgement responses.

Chief Executive Officer of the Central Housing and Planning Authority (CH&PA), Lelon Saul had revealed that he was aware of this issue of non-payment.

“A complaint was lodged at the Ministry, I think it was some time last year, and we would have called in both parties and we advised them to settle the issue,” Saul told reporters earlier this month.

Furthermore, the CH&PA Head had also noted that the award of the contract to the Minister’s husband for works under a Ministry she was heading was a clear conflict of interest even if the contract was awarded through a competitive bidding process.

“If the contractor in question is the spouse of the Minister, certainly it would be a conflict of interest,” he posited.

To this end, the CH&PA Head called for a review of the awarding process so that there is no reoccurrence of such a situation. It is a call that was echoed by other sections of society, including Transparency Institute of Guyana Inc.

There have also been revelations that Videomega Productions, the multi-media company owned by Public Telecommunications Minister Cathy Hughes, received multiple contracts from the Government.

Meanwhile, Guyana is home to the world’s biggest new deep-water oil discovery. US oil giant ExxonMobil has been keen to push the development of the oil reserves. Production could begin in 2020 with the production of hundreds of thousands of barrels of oil a day.

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