By Michael Younge
Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo says that renegotiating the deal inked between United States Oil Company ExxonMobil and Guyana may prove to be very difficult even if the Peoples Progressive Party is reelected to office in 2020.
Jagdeo, speaking at a press conference held at the PPP’s Freedom House headquarters on Church Street today, asserted that Guyana lost significantly after the negotiation process which the Government entered with an advantage.
He made this comment while refusing to rule out, a renegotiation for more favourable terms if the PPP was successful at the 2020 polls. The Opposition Leader nonetheless called for the contract to be respected even if a majority of Guyanese are unhappy aspects of the agreement.
“We are very unhappy about many of the contracts…the Barama Contract…the GTT Contract that we got when we went into office. WE inherited those but we have had to live with it…We have been one of the most successful Governments ever in our history in terms of attracting foreign investment….We respect contracts. We negotiate tough bargains…”, he explained.
As a political party, Jagdeo said the PPP would not like to send the wrong message to foreign investors.
The PPP General Secretary referenced another contentious issue which required tough negotiation with Guyana Gold Fields which resulted in a more reasonable outcome.
‘If we can identify any contract where there was corrupt or under hand dealing that is a different ball game…”, Jagdeo said as he insisted that the PPP does not want to appear contentious to foreign investors but will not turn a blind eye to corruption or illegalitie that affect the nation’s interest and wellbeing.
Last week, Government was forced to release the ExxonMobil Contract of months of refusing to do so and high levels of secrecy. It was pressured into releasing the contract document after a leaked letter to the Governor of the Bank of Guyana revealed that it had indeed received a whopping US$18M as a signing bonus resulting in widespread public rebuke and disapproval over Government’s dishonesty.
The monies were kept outside of the Consolidated Fund which critics argued breached Guyana’s financial laws. Also, when calls were mounted for the dismissal of the Ministers who misled the public on the signing bonus and reasons for withholding the contract, President David Granger intervened and took the wrap.
Jagdeo and the PPP are maintaining that there are still many more questions that need to be answered about the petroleum agreement and the manner in which it was negotiated. He said that Guyana got “peanuts” while ExxonMobil walked away with a favourable agreement.