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Jagdeo skirts questions on money Guyana collected from oil companies during PPP/C tenure




By Abena Rockcliffe-Campbell

Petroleumworld 06 20 2018

"You are talking about small sums of money; relatively small sums. We have a bigger concern about a larger sum that we have all been talking about. Yet this government refuses to address it.”

So said, former President Bharrat Jagdeo when questioned how the People's Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) spent money that it collected from oil companies specifically for capacity building.

For well over a decade, Guyana received yearly sums from several oil companies, including oil giant, ExxonMobil, for the purpose of capacity building. But from all indications the money was not used for that purpose.
As a result, less than two years away from first oil, Guyana finds itself with a deficit of the skills and expertise needed to service the industry and safeguard the country's interest.

Head of ExxonMobil's Public Affairs Department, Kimberly Brasington, said that from 1999 to 2016, ExxonMobil paid Guyana a lot of money.
ExxonMobil would have paid that sum based on the provisions of the old contract. The sum for capacity building has increased under the new contract.

Brasington said that for 2017, the Government of Guyana already received a cheque for US$300,000 which is $60M. Therefore, Guyana would have received a total of $213M for capacity building.

While this sum is no extraordinary amount, there is still no record of any Guyanese being awarded a scholarship for geology or to be trained in oil and gas accounting during the years 1999 and 2015.

This is despite the fact that the 1999 agreement was clear that the sums were to be used for capacity building for the oil and gas sector. Other oil companies had similar obligations. Therefore, over the years, the government would have been collecting similar sum from at least four other oil companies.

When Jagdeo was asked how the money was spent, he chose to highlight the fact that the APNU+AFC government collected way more money in the form of a “signing bonus” that is yet to be placed into the Consolidated Fund.

He noted that despite the fact that PPP/C brought litigation against the government to force “them to do the lawful thing…the government is still refusing to do so.”

Jagdeo noted that the money is nowhere national budgetary estimates or revenue figures for 2016 or 2017. “So that money, for all practical purposes, does not exist based on the financial laws because if it is not there in the financial statements of the government.”

He continued, “I have bigger concerns…the understating of our revenue for 2016 by US$18M and the understating of our 2017 estimates by US$18M. That changes everything. It changes the size of the fiscal deficit and several other macro variables.”

Jagdeo could not state if the PPP/C ensured that the money went towards capacity building. He said, “When it comes to the fees and stuff I know it was paid to the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) and you may be able to track that through an audit. I have no doubt that it would be accounted for.”

In 2016, the APNU+AFC Government also received an US$18M signing bonus. It said that US$3M from that sum would be put aside for capacity building. The Government has no known clear plans regarding particular areas where they plan to build capacity with this particular sum.


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Story by Abena Rockcliffe-Campbell from Kaieter News
06 20 2018

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