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A group of professionals here have asked the controversial Global Witness to justify its claims that Guyana will get US$168 billion from its agreement with ExxonMobil and that this country should renegotiate for another US$55bn.
Anand Goolsarran, the former Auditor-General of Guyana, Ramon Gaskin, Melinda Janki, Leland de Cambra, Fred Collins, Transparency Institute Guyana Inc., A Fair Deal for Guyana – A Fair Deal for the Planet, Justice Institute Guyana, members of the religious community, and other concerned Guyanese have signed the letter which was dispatched to the human rights watchdog body.
According to a media release by the group the letter sent on 25th August 2020 states, “Global Witness owes it to the people of Guyana to act transparently and disclose fully how they reached their figures of US$168bn and US$55bn or withdraw those figures.”
Anand Goolsarran, who served as Auditor-General of Guyana for 15 years has stressed the importance of providing rigorous numbers to the public, “It is very important to have complete transparency when discussing oil revenue. As an organisation that campaigns for transparency Global Witness should have no problem providing the Guyanese people with robust calculations showing how they reached US$168bn and US$58bn.”
The letter asks the Board of Global Witness to hold Global Witness to the same standards of transparency and accountability that Global Witness applies to extractive industries and governments.
Global Witness has promoted its figures of S$168bn and US$55bn widely in the international and national press and the numbers are now a standard reference point. Within Guyana, many citizens trust Global Witness and believe that the figures correctly state the wealth that Guyana will get from the ExxonMobil deal. Last week Global Witness again urged the Government of Guyana to negotiate for billions more referring back to their January report but without altering or updating the figures of
US$168bn and US$55bn from that report. Ramon Gaskin, who is currently challenging the oil production in the courts, said nobody can predict what the price of any internationally traded commodity will be in 20 years. Any prediction based on a 20 year projection is no use to any serious analyst of any internationally traded commodity whether it be oil, rice, sugar, gold, silver, bauxite and so on.”
According to Ms Janki, an international lawyer who has worked in the oil sector, “Global Witness told Guyana to let Exxonmobil take out 8 billion barrels of oil. Vice-President Bharrat Jagdeo has suggested shutting down the oil if Guyanese don’t share in the prosperity. We need a reality check on those Global Witness revenue figures in order to protect the patrimony of present and future generations.”
Ms Janki also pointed out: “Revenue is based on the market not a model. We want to see the numbers that Global Witness multiplied or added up to get to US$168bn and US$55bn.” Global Witness released their report less than 5 weeks before Guyana’s high stakes March elections, a move described by a Chatham House researcher like throwing a bomb into the elections fray. The Guyana Elections Commission took 5 months to declare the results of the elections. Mr Goolsarran has criticised the terms of the exploitative deal including the low royalty and the production sharing arrangement instead of a profit sharing arrangement.