…as prerequisites to proliferate Petroleum sector non-existent- Jagdeo
As the three-day Guyana International Petroleum Business Summit (GIPEX 2018) gets underway today at the Marriott Hotel, the event which is hosted by Government, through the Guyana Office for Investment (Go-Invest), is being dubbed the Opposition as a “bread and circus” exhibition aimed at “diverting attention away from the real problems of joblessness, poverty, crime and overall hopelessness engulfing the nation.”
Opposition Leader and General Secretary of the Peoples Progressive Party/ Civic (PPP/C), Dr Bharrat Jagdeo, in a released statement posited that his Party has examined the programme and came to the conclusion that it does not help one to understand what is the true nature and objective of this event.
In a release, the organisers of GIPEX assured that opportunities for investment and capacity building in Guyana’s oil and gas sector would be provided.
Among the items up for discussion during the three-day summit, which ends on Friday, was a presentation on building a successful local content policy – a outline which sets out its plan for ensuring that Guyanese develop socio and economic capacity from oil.
According to Jagdeo however, “from the outset, we have stated that any competent Government inviting investment interests in the sector must set out clear policy objectives; must establish the requisite architecture and create an attractive environment that will conduce to investments. None of these prerequisites currently exists.”
On the contrary, he posited that “the entire sector is mired in controversies, chaos and confusion.”
Expanding on the Opposition’s position, Jagdeo said that the Petroleum Bill that ought to set out the legal framework and policy infrastructure for the sector is still in a Select Committee in the National Assembly, a Committee that he noted has never even met.
Moreover, he posited that the “Bill itself is deeply flawed, in that it preponderates excessive power and authority in the subject Minister. Even the Minister is on record as so admitting and has promised to shed some of these powers.”
“The promised Sovereign Wealth Fund has not been established; neither is there any clear policy in relation to local content. The contract itself is overwhelmed in controversy. The signing bonus still resides, unlawfully and unconstitutionally, in an account in the Central Bank instead of the Consolidated Fund” the Opposition leader said. “No explanation is forthcoming from the Government in respect of the multiplicity of criticisms and queries raised in the press and by Guyanese everywhere about the contract. All we have from the Government is a glib indication that future contracts will not be similarly structured and negotiated.”
Additionally, the PPP General Secretary explained that “there is absolutely no clarity on the Government’s ‘Green State Strategy’; neither is there any guidance in respect of how this will impact or interface with the petroleum sector.”
In the circumstances, Jagdeo said that his party has no alternative but to conclude that this event is another “publicity gimmick of the Government, where those in attendance will have to endure another platitudinal speech of the President and more exhibitionof Minister [Raphael] Trotman’s remarkable incompetence.”