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Protesting what is seen as an unfair deal between ExxonMobil and the People of Guyana, the Article 13 group and other citizens staged demonstration in front of the Ministry of Natural Resources.
Calling for the contract to be renewed, Yog Mahadeo, one of the leading members of the group, pointed out that this is not only a matter of fairness and Guyanese getting their fair share from the proceeds of oil sale but also that of corruption. “A renegotiation of the contract will benefit all, not [President Irfaan] Ali, not [Vice President Bharrat] Jagdeo but each and every one of us will benefit.”
Acknowledging that Exxon has to meet expenditures which is not faulted; it is being questioned why Guyanese, in the first year, must only get $85 billion from oil sale and Exxon gets to write off all its cost and they made $320 billion in profit but is given $79 billion tax credit. The minister he said goes over to the Guyana Revenue Authority to have a Tax Certificate issued to the company when no taxes are received by the Government. “It’s a manipulation of the book.”
Mahadeo urged the SEC and Stock Exchange in the United States and all over the world, and Exxon stakeholders to pay attention to the non-payment of taxes and inflating of profit by the company. Going further, he said Guyanese need to take note they cannot earn and not pay taxes and receive a Tax Certificate for taxes not paid. “The Laws of Guyana [do] not allow it, it is illegal, it is unconstitutional, it is bad in faith, bad in practice.”
In a protest held earlier in the week Mahadeo noted that while people are blaming former Minister of Natural Resources, Raphael Trotman, for the royalty they should know that under Trotman royalty was doubled from one percent to two percent, an increase of 100 percent. The group wants the President to “stop the gaff and renegotiate the contract now.”
Citing that the then Opposition People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) had access to the contracts, in 2016 participated in the parliamentary debates on the contracts, and the fact that they have since signed a “Bridging Deed’ with Exxon has made the situation worse. “It [is] the killer.”
Renegotiation of the oil contracts was a major campaign message of the PPP/C. The Party had promised if they were elected, this would be among their top priorities . There has been no re-negotiating effort thus far.