OP-ED | Don’t be fooled by Ali and Jagdeo

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…any audit now will not save Guyana from paying US$9.5B to Exxon

By Lincoln Lewis

Guyanese must not be fooled by verbalised comments of President Irfaan Ali and Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo that the Government of Guyana will conduct an audit into the last two years of Exxon’s spending. Any audit now will not save Guyana the burden we carry for owing US$9.5 billion to this company, when we failed to honour our side of the contractual agreement. Let’s not be fooled or allow ourselves to be deceived by Ali and Jagdeo’s utterances. They are false.

Exxon now owns Guyana. Financially. This year’s National Budget is GY$383.1 billion (US$1.84 billion). Guyana owes Exxon US$9.5 billion. Do the calculation. Had the regime, when it entered office, focused on these oil contracts instead of witch-hunting and seeking to settle imaginary political scores, Guyana could have avoided this travesty.

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The arrogance and incompetence of the political leadership is costing this nation and its people dearly. Few, if any Guyanese, would not come together to review the contracts. The noise the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) made when in Opposition about these contracts, and commitment given during the election campaign to review them, are proving to be just huffing and puffing to get into office.

Together we must hold them accountable for their refusal to initiate actions to review these contracts and for our present state of affairs. It is because of their recklessness future generations, many of whom are not yet born, will be saddled with this enormous debt. This US$9.5 billion could be equated to the Government of Guyana knowingly placing the People of Guyana into economic bondage to a foreign capital. It is tantamount to a form of economic indenture-ship to honour this financial obligation to Exxon.

Never before has this nation owed one company more than it has in its International Reserves at 2020 (US$680 million), larger than its external (GY$ $650 billion) and internal (GY$500 billion) debt ceilings, and bigger than its National Budget. This is the gravity of the situation we must grapple with and hold the government accountable, as was done with the former coalition government (A Partnership for National Unity and Alliance For Change), on these matters.

The PPP/C must be held even moreso accountable because they are the ones that promised to do better and must deliver better.  We could only imagine what $US9.5 billion could have done for the development of this country and the working class. It’s an imagination that will never be realised.

This matter is not about political loyalty or absence thereof, as so many grave issues of national import get ensnared in. This is a matter that puts at risk the sovereignty and future of Guyana, as an independent nation state. We are in what the older generation would call “sh%t creek.” As a citizen and leader in society the call is being reiterated for the Government and Opposition to come together and meet with all stakeholders in this society to ensure proper management of the business of the state, consistent with the supreme law, i.e. the Constitution of Guyana.  We must activate Article 13 as enshrined in the Constitution as a matter of urgency. It must no longer be business as usual.



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