Ad against investment crossed a line

On page 24 of yesterday’s edition of Stabroek News appears a paid ad that reads ` Investors beware, GOINVEST elsewhere’.

I salute Stabroek News, Kaieteur News, and the rest of the Guyana media for the work they have been doing in protecting Guyana’s natural resources. Their direct and indirect exposes and analyses of the 2016 Esso/Hess/CNOOC Nexen Petroleum Agreement are courageous, patriotic and worthy of any national media. They have exposed the weaknesses of persons like Ministers Greenidge and Jordan and the dishonesty and doublespeak of Minister Raphael Trotman. The collective errors of judgement, honesty and integrity will cost Guyana dearly for decades to come if the Contract is not renegotiated.

Guyanese therefore have a right to be outraged, but under no circumstances do I support an advertisement that discourages investors to our country. The country needs foreign investors bringing capital, technology and expertise, and providing jobs, revenue and models of good governance practices.

Yes, there will be carpetbaggers, as they are everywhere. Our duty is to establish a system for identifying and weeding those out. In fact, specific to the petroleum sector, if Janet Jagan and to a considerably greater extent, Raphael Trotman had ensured that the requirements of the Petroleum Exploration and Production Act and Regulations were applied, many of the concerns about the 2016 Agreement – important constituent parts of which are still being kept secret – would not even have arisen.

We therefore have legitimate reasons to believe that our Government has acted against the national interest. We must however respond in a measured and patriotic manner. The ad in my view has crossed a line.

Minister Trotman’s statement on the negotiations is at odds with the preamble to the agreement

Even as Minister of Natural Resources Raphael Trotman touts his academic and professional qualifications (S/N 30-12-2017 GGMC team clinched Exxon pact –Trotman) including negotiations skills, he reportedly distanced himself from any participation in the renegotiations leading to a new Petroleum Agreement with Esso/Hess/CNOOCNexen. He is reported as stating that “the technical staff of the GGMC… Mr Newell Dennison (Commissioner of GGMC) and his team were the principal negotiators (of the Exxon petroleum agreement).”

If one is to believe Mr. Trotman then it means that the Preamble to the Agreement is false and misleading. On the other hand, if the Preamble is accurate, then we have Mr. Trotman once again lying to the country. Continue reading Minister Trotman’s statement on the negotiations is at odds with the preamble to the agreement

Mr Norton voted in favour of the bill on Article 161

Discretion, if not wisdom, suggests to any public official who mis-cites himself, misrepresents the facts on which he makes false claims, accuses others of amnesia and of stupidity, that at the very least, he should just stay silent, if not apologise. Expressed another way is the rule that when you are in a hole, you stop digging. Mr. Aubrey Norton seems unfamiliar with these common sense principles.

In his letter in the Stabroek News of yesterday’s date, Mr. Norton describes as “the summit of stupidity”, the question by attorney-at-law, Mr. Kamal Ramkarran, on how he, Norton voted on the constitutional amendment to article 161 in 2000. Mr. Norton goes on to lecture Mr. Ramkarran that “you don’t vote in such circumstances—the Speaker merely notes that the ayes have it.” Continue reading Mr Norton voted in favour of the bill on Article 161

Mr Norton was wrong about the date of the GECOM proviso

The debate on the interpretation of Article 161 (2) of the Constitution has continued, with increased intensity, following the rejection of lists of eighteen persons named by the Leader of the Opposition and the unilateral appointment of Justice James Patterson by President Granger. Unfortunately some writers have made claims that are at best incomplete, or are otherwise unsupported by facts.

Mr. Tacuma Ogunseye, WPA executive member in another section of the print media refers to Dr. Rupert Roopnaraine’s advocacy at the level of the WPA Executive of the “need to revisit the Carter formula” and that Roopnaraine had reminded the Executive “that the Carter Model was never intended to be a permanent arrangement and it had outlived its usefulness.” Former General Secretary of the PNC and member of Parliament and now Government functionary, Mr. Aubrey Norton, seeking to justify the President’s unilateral decision, writes that “Jagdeo and PPP laid basis to move away from Carter Formula and it has come back to haunt them”, a claim challenged by Mr. Kamal Ramkarran in yesterday’s Sunday Stabroek. Perhaps a little bit of history of the Constitution and the Elections Commission will help. Continue reading Mr Norton was wrong about the date of the GECOM proviso

What are the real curses?

Two statements reportedly made by President David Granger in a speech to an audience in New York while attending the United Nations General Assembly attracted my attention: one was an exhortation to members of the Guyanese diaspora to return home as the country needed brains, not barrels, and the other was a description of sugar, rice, bauxite, gold, diamonds and timber as the “curse of the six sisters”, perhaps a play on the Seven Sisters in oil.

Unfortunately, Mr Granger did not on that or any earlier occasion indicate the basis, logic and justification of the call for brains. Guyanese abroad respectfully attend presidential visits as a social event but have not been responding to President Granger’s several calls, in the absence of an industrial or investment policy, or a diaspora policy, or a crime policy. We not only need such policies but also a study to identify the skills set the President so much wants to attract.

In their adopted countries, the members of the Guyanese diaspora have worked hard to acquire their skills, operate in a functioning democracy (despite Trump), are employed in an organised and professional work environment, are reasonably well paid, are not subject to glaring discrimination, enjoy a decent standard of living and, very importantly, feel safe in the society in which they live. None of these can be taken for granted in Guyana. Continue reading What are the real curses?