“There must be an independent third party looking at the revenue coming from the corporation that is extracting the oil and from the entity – the Government – that is receiving it.”
These were the words of Trinidad and Tobago Transparency Institute (TTTI) Chairman Dion Abdool In his address to the Transparency Institute of Guyana Inc (TIGI) annual fundraising dinner held on Saturday evening.
He was at the time warning of corruption within the oil and gas sector and advised that Guyana should learn from the mistakes and shortcomings of Trinidad and Tobago in this regard.
Abdool said that an independent third party responsible for reconciliation and accounting of revenue and transactions is of paramount importance and proposed for Guyana that the independent third party should be the Guyana Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (GEITI).
“Like TTTI, the Guyana Transparency Institute sits at the EITI table, they must insist for transparency and accountability in the reporting of the revenue so that there can be no tax leakage. Learn from our lessons well in Trinidad; it will redound to your benefit,” the TTTI Chairman urged.
Abdool’s suggestion came as a result of Trinidad and Tobago’s Energy Minister identifying “tax leakage” as the reason behind a drop in revenue; this drop was initially thought to be caused by a simple decline in production.
Additionally, Abdool urged that Guyanese be aware of entities within their own country, noting that “rip-offs” can come from locals, rather than just foreigners. As an example, he cited Trinidad’s recent experience of a fake oil scandal. He explained that an audit of the State oil company found that the country was swindled of millions of dollars within a few months.
“In just a few months, they found that the volumes recorded by and reported and based on which the extractor was being paid were wrong to the tune of many, many millions of dollars. Learn from our experiences,” he pleaded.
“Disclosure is in everyone’s best interest. The absence of information leads to mistrust. All may be well, but the mere fact that the information is not available leads to mistrust in the public’s mind” said Abdool.