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– Dr. Adams says in slamming PPP politicisation of the public service
By Lisa Hamilton
The most important agency in Guyana for the protection of the country’s environment as economic activities significantly increase has been left bare, without the necessary expertise and without a plan for needed improvement.
This is the observation of former Head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Dr. Vincent Adams who was dismissed from his post on Monday by the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Government with no reason given.
The Opposition has dubbed the move a continuation of the Administration’s “ethnopolitical purging” but Dr. Adams sees it as the stifling of opportunities which abound within the diaspora on the basis of political differences.
Telling of how he became the Head of the EPA, Dr. Adams first reminded the public, as guest on an APNU+AFC programme, that he grew up in one of Guyana’s poorest communities, Chrisitianburg Linden.
Through the opportunities he received in his home country, he was able to travel overseas where he worked his way up to one of the highest serving positions in the United States (U.S.) Government.
Initially, he worked for six years as a Senior Petroleum Reservoir and Production Engineer with British Petroleum where he pioneered the enhanced recovery of oil and gas. Then, for 11 years, he worked his way up to the highest level of the U.S. Government with academic credentials and experience until he retired.
“I worked to the highest level of the Government in what is called the Senior Executive Service (SES) core employee and equivalent of the flag offices in the military, the generals and the admirals that run the day to day operation of the civilian government,” he said.
During this period, he visited Guyana yearly, as many as four times, as a means of giving back to his home country through the Linden Fund USA. It was never his intention to return to serve as Head of the EPA but when the opportunity was presented to him he saw it for it’s ‘bigger picture’ potential.
“I did not even pursue this position. I was asked and I said ‘wow’, this here is an opportunity where I can make a difference because we did not have any expertise and when I said any I mean zero expertise in oil and gas and it was going to drive our economy,” Dr. Adams said.
He told those listening that when he took up the post, the EPA was void of expertise. In due time, he worked along with the World Bank to establish over 30 positions in the agency to be filled by individuals with expertise predominantly in petroleum engineering.
He had plans to double the current staff by 2021 and to triple the number by 2022 to meet the duties of the EPA but his work was cut short when the PPP/C Government took office and made a political decision to remove him from the post.
“We do not have anybody at the EPA right now with any background in petroleum. Besides managing and bringing the Agency to some respectability, I had to do all the petroleum work. So, we have not a single person with any petroleum background whatsoever [there],” Dr. Adams said, adding:
“Now that I’ve left, I am worried as to who is going to review or do oversight while we build the Department or who is even going to know what to look for and how to shore up the Department. That’s my major concern.”
The environment expert said that when thinking about the EPA, many persons tend to focus only on the oil and gas factor but forget that the environment is key. He said that when Guyana significantly develops to large scale O&G production and economic activity booms, the protection of the environment will become even more important than it currently is.
He stated: “You’ve already seen the hotels that are being proposed and everything has to pass through the EPA. So, there’s going to be a major challenge and so we do not have expertise in either the environmental management at that level and the international level and in oil and gas and here is somebody that happens to have expertise in both areas.”
Instead of allowing politics to guide decisions made without valid reasons, Dr. Adams recommended that the Government realise the potential that the Guyanese diaspora holds and tap into it. He said that the recommendation is bigger than ‘Vincent Adams’ and more about the thousands who are willing to contribute but may be discouraged by such questionable dismissals.
“We’ve got to put politics behind us…I came from the diaspora and whoever I’ve become, it was because of the grounding that I got here. I had a free education. I grew up in the alleys of Christianburg, one of the poorest communities in the whole country and everything that I got was because of that village that raised me, the people that held my hands, the teachers…it was my turn to be that village, to give back and, what I’m saying here – speaking for thousands of people in the diaspora who feel exactly the same way – we may have left the shores — they said at the time it was a brain drain — but I think it’s a great opportunity now for the Government or the leadership of the Government to use to brain drain as a massive brain gain,” he advised.
Being now relieved of his post, Dr. Adams said that he is certain that his termination was not due to his performance. This, he said, leaves many questions which those in and out of Government should think of critically.