OPINION: Eyewitness: Clueless


…on energy

Head of the Department of Energy (DoE), Dr Mark Bynoe, addressed a Christian Men’s gathering over the weekend, and summarily dismissed the idea of Guyana going ahead with a refinery to handle the crude oil we’ll be receiving as our share of the oil. Your Eyewitness wonders if Bynoe thinks that “church people” are so focused on the hereafter, they’re simplistic or stupid about things of the world. The fella had the arrogance to tell the people, “I think what most people are conflating is not if a refinery should come to shore, it’s whether or not we should have cheap fuel.”

So all church people can possibly think about when they consider the oil discovered off our shores is “cheap fuel”?? They can’t possibly think about the industrialisation of Guyana?? They can’t possibly think about adding value to at least one of our primary products…after hundreds of years of being hustled on sugar, rice, bauxite, gold and timber?? They can’t think about using the petroleum distillate for synthesising other products, like fertilisers etc?? Or even using by-products like bitumen to cap our roads – especially the ones we plan to open up our hinterland?

And to add insult to injury, Bynoe simpered that as far as “cheap fuel” is concerned, the Government could deliver that without a refinery!! Well, of course it can…just take off the 70% tariff they slap on the import price!! Well, why don’t they do that to diesel for agriculture, which is the largest employer in the country?? But that’s not all. His answer involving tariffs demonstrates that Bynoe hasn’t the foggiest notion about the oil industry.

When Granger personally handpicked him, there was a firestorm of protest in the face of his obvious unsuitability for a job that’ll literally determine whether the ordinary Guyanese will even have a chance of enjoying the good life from oil. The job description called for experience in the petroleum sector at a ministerial level or its equivalent; yet, all Bynoe had was a PhD in ENVIRONMENTAL Economics, of all things!! Granger placed a man trained to protect the environment in charge of one of the most polluting industries on the planet!!

But Bynoe’s a perfect example of the PNC under Granger: appointing loyalists to positions critical to our future, but in which they had no experience. It’s like Burnham putting Haslyn Parris in charge of Bauxite after nationalisation – when the man pushed production without ignoring the needed recapitalisation. Of course the entire entity collapsed after the first decade!!

What was more galling that Granger handpicking Bynoe was his overlooking AFC’s Dr Vincent Adams, who had 30 years in the US Department of Energy.

And placing HIM in Environment!!

…on local content

“Local Content” regulations in the incipient oil industry has been very high on the agenda of the people, but the Government keeps on dawdling. After all, while the idea of the Government sending out cheques to every Guyanese citizen might look like a lucky windfall, Guyanese know that having their own jobs is a better option.

Fundamentally, they’ll be given an opportunity to develop themselves, and rise as far as their natural talents and hard work would take them.

But with every company with the most tenuous experience in the oil industry flocking from across the world to service the “oil find of the century”-  and us not having the legislation in place to insist on locals being hired – it’s possible we may be left out in the cold. The point was raised that we might be locking out the skills needed to perform the needed jobs if we do so.

But every country became developed by either protecting their “infant” industry or insisting on local content??

Can’t walk unless your hand’s held!!

…on election date

You’d think after all the brownnosing PM Nagamootoo’s been doing, he’d have some insider info on the PNC’s plans for holding elections.

But in his column, the poor fella had to cry out, “Quando, Quando, Quando” – When? When? When?