Oct 03, 2017
Political Scientist and Executive Member of the Working People’s Alliance (WPA), Dr. David Hinds, has always acknowledged that Guyana needs ExxonMobil. However, Dr. Hinds is of the opinion that some politicians have failed to realise that ExxonMobil needs Guyana too; “otherwise, the company would not have been operating here.”
The basis upon which Dr. Hinds formed his opinion is directly linked to the manner in which Government has been going about negotiations with ExxonMobil. These negotiations include the fact that the production contract is still shrouded in secrecy. The other reason has to do with the fact that the political opposition is not being ‘adequately’ consulted.
Also, Dr. Hinds thinks that if politicians understood the amount of wealth that is being taken out of Guyana, a more serious approach would have been taken.
Dr. Hinds said that one of the many lessons that Guyana should learn from previous relations with foreign companies is that a national approach and strategy is always needed. He said that it would be good for Guyana if the government can lead the process towards the development of a national strategy but not overly monopolise it.
Dr. Hinds said that the government must bring critical stakeholders into the process in a meaningful way. “In this regard, I would argue for a meaningful role of the PPP. The PPP has to be at table in a serious way.”
The political scientist said that a “united national political front in the face of the might of Exxon is a winner for us. In addition, it minimises the scope for ExxonMobil to play our two political titans against each other. And it ensures continuity in the event of a change of government.”
Dr. Hinds said that the coalition government would be wise not to make the same mistake with Exxon that the People’s Progressive Party/ Civic (PPP/C) administration made with companies like BaiShanLin International Forest Development Inc. and Rusal.
“They must not treat ExxonMobil as their partisan friends. They must not exclude the representatives of half the nation; and the PPP must stop being prophets of doom and join the team. Oil must not further divide us; it must bring us closer to a unity of purpose.”
Dr. Hinds told Kaieteur News that the inability of the government to make public a lot of the information regarding the contract with ExxonMobil and other related issues continue to be worrying.
He said that the government’s insistence that this is driven by legal and contractual considerations is inadequate. “I am sure that there are some aspects of the contract which demand confidentiality.”
Dr. Hinds said, “That the government would do well to simply release those parts of the contract that are not controversial. But as we now know, most of the content of these contracts is not high security information; so, Why the secrecy?”
Dr. Hinds said that the release of the contract is vital for government accountability and for the country’s integrity. “We must set an example in this regard—we know too much from the experiences of other countries about the pitfall of secrecy.”
He continued, “Look how it took Chris Ram to let us know how Janet Jagan gave away the store to ExxonMobil. This information should have come from the government—why are they hiding the PPP’s indiscretion? This is the reason that many government supporters are so cynical about the ability of the government to root out the PPP-style of governance.”
Dr. Hinds said that the APNU+AFC government is only fueling speculation that it may be into something sinister. The politician said that APNU+AFC government needs to remember that a want for accountability by the Guyanese is part of why it was elected and would play a significant role in its capacity to be re-elected.
“It’s a straight question—who do you prefer to offend on the matter of confidentiality? Who are you ultimately accountable to—Exxon Mobil or the Guyanese citizens?”
Dr. Hinds said that the hypocrisy of Opposition leader Bharrat Jagdeo knows no limit. “While he daily hammers the government on the matter of open governance, Mr. Jagdeo blatantly refused to reveal what he discussed in his meeting with Exxon Mobil.”
Dr. Hinds said that information from Jagdeo is equally important as that from the government.
“He is a partner on this issue, since he could potentially be the next president. If you practise secrecy now, what would you do if you gain power? If it’s wrong for the government to withhold information, it is equally wrong for Jagdeo and the PPP to do so. So Jagdeo needs to stop being a hypocrite and level with the Guyanese people, said Dr, Hinds.
He continued, “I support bringing the PPP on board in a nationalist front against the might of ExxonMobil, but if they are going to just add to the secrecy that now exists, then what’s the point. Both Jagdeo and Trotman should face the nation and let us know the truth about this process from beginning to end, starting with the agreements entered into by the PPP.”