The High-Level Caucus on Oil Sector Strategy that was held between President David Granger, Cabinet members and some international experts to discuss plans for Guyana’s oil and gas sector on Wednesday, has been described as another public relations (PR) stunt being displayed by Government.
Opposition Leader Dr Bharrat Jagdeo is adamant that even though these experts may be able to offer sound advise, he is not optimistic that Government would take it on board, as the Administration has in the past rejected advise.
Jagdeo was referring to the sidelining of President Granger’s Petroleum Advisor Dr Jan Mangal who had said that Guyana’s contract with oil giant ExxonMobil can be renegotiated and the royalty Guyana is receiving is too low compared to global standards.
Government through its State Minister had said that “we have dealt with the ExxonMobil contract and we are not going back on it, it was dealt with at Cabinet and the President has pronounced on the matter and that is the final pronouncement as far as we are concerned.”
The Opposition leader also called out the President for his comments at caucus on ensuring that there is no exploitation of the resource.
Among other things, Granger had said that “we need to educate ourselves as a Cabinet, as a Government and as population as a whole. We have to take a sober approach to the exploitation of this valuable resource. We need to create the organisation, the structure that will manage this resource and even now, as I speak, we are in a state of transition.”
In relation to the President’s call the Opposition leader posited “did he wake up a week ago…what have we been doing for the past three years?” he questioned, while asserting that there has been a lack of collaboration with the political Opposition and civil society on germane issues that would ensure the success of the oil and gas sector.
Jagdeo stressed that the political Opposition has been calling for an apolitical framework for more than a year now.
“I have said before that there should be no ministerial involvement in the Petroleum Commission; that the remaining oil blocks should be subject to a competitive auction or kept for future generations; and that we should complete the work on the Local Content framework. There have been no substantive moves in any of these directions. As I have said before there is no clear management framework for the oil and gas sector” Jagdeo had said.
One of the main presenters at the caucus, Sir Paul Collier, a Professor at Blavatnik School of Public Policy at the University of Oxford urged the APNU/AFC Government to focus on proper policy choices and decisive national leadership.
He also spoke of the importance of transforming oil revenues into assets; noting that oil resource presents numerous opportunities but the Government must develop a sound strategy to transform those opportunities into tangible benefits for the Guyanese population.