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By Mark DaCosta-Guyana’s oil and gas contract with ExxonMobil was the topic of discussion at a seminar hosted by the Guyana Trades Union Congress (GTUC). The September 28 seminar was conducted in collaboration with the United States based International Republican Institute (IRI).
The IRI was represented at the daylong event by Local Program Manager Sara Bharrat. The session comprised an analysis of the oil and gas contract by economist Rawle Lucas followed by a discussion of the topic among some 30 attendees. Those in attendance were mainly leaders within Guyana’s various trade unions, however, representatives of other groups and private citizens were also present.
The event is the second one of its kind hosted by the GTUC on the topic of oil and gas, but the first one at which the IRI is involved. General Secretary of the GTUC Lincoln Lewis said that the purpose of the seminar was to educate ordinary Guyanese about the particulars of the Production Sharing Agreement (PSA) between Guyana and ExxonMobil.
Mr. Lewis said that the seminar is one of a series of similar sessions that will be facilitated by the GTUC. Upcoming sessions will focus on various aspects of the topic, particularly, he said, on the issues related to money generated by oil and gas production, how that money is held and spent, how oil revenues should benefit all Guyanese, and by what means maximum benefits may be realised.
Mr. Lewis told this publication that the GTUC’s decision to host the series of sessions was influenced by a confluence of factors. The General Secretary said that the trade union movement in Guyana has always viewed itself as being an integral part of Guyanese life. As such, the movement has a responsibility to ensure that workers are informed about matters that may affect their wellbeing.
Further, the General Secretary said that the GTUC is concerned by the fact that even though it is evident that Guyana’s oil and gas industry will be pivotal to Guyana’s prospects, very few citizens know anything about the industry. He said that while government touts the importance of oil and gas, there appears to be little effort by authorities to educate ordinary citizens about the industry and how the money it is generating is being used for the benefit of Guyanese. As such, he said, the GTUC intends to close the information gap by doing all that it can to educate citizens.
The General Secretary said that future sessions will accommodate presentations from persons with diverse expertise in various fields who may view the topic from various perspectives. Mr. Lewis said that while leaders within trade unions and other groups will be directly invited, anyone may attend the upcoming seminars.