Guyana's oil revenue will not be squandered, promises the “good life” – Granger
President David Granger has assured that the Coalition Government is committed to transparency in the management of the oil and gas sector, promising to be prudent with revenues which will flow from oil production in 2020.
- Kaieteur News.
By Samuel Sukhnandan
Petroleumworld 10 19 2018
It was a red carpet occasion as the 97th Sitting of the National Assembly of the First Session of the Eleventh Parliament was called on Thursday when President David Granger addressed the packed Chamber filled with members of the diplomatic corps and other guests.
In a lengthy speech, the Guyanese Head of State regurgitated his old promise of a “good life” for all Guyanese. But the President went a bit further by stating his vision is to create a good life for all Guyanese based on happy communities, happy households and happy people.
“The ‘good life' entails providing every citizen with opportunities to be the best that they can be. The ‘good life' is about securing sustained economic prosperity, ensuring citizens' access to quality public services and promoting social cohesion… eliminating extreme poverty and removing social, ethnic and geographic inequalities,” he told the National Assembly.
However, the President's remarks comes at a time when there is a pending increase in tolls at the Berbice River Bridge, and where sugar workers have not yet been paid their severance. Additionally, bauxite workers are uncertain about their future with the impending closure of Rusal and the sugar industry has performed it worse in decades since its downsizing.
Nevertheless, the President shared a broader vision for the country in 2019, explaining that all Guyanese could rest assured that Government will support the Assembly in providing oversight over the work of the executive and in the debate and passage of key pieces of legislation.
He said, “Guyanese could expect confidently, that by the end of 2019, they would be able to live in a State with more secure borders; communities that are safer; in an economy that is more resilient; in a society that is more cohesive; with public services that are more accessible and constitutional agencies and institutions which enjoy the confidence and respect of the public.”
The President also used the opportunity to speak about Government's Green State Development Strategy which is Government's roadmap for the transition towards the “good life.” The strategy, he said, is being crystallised and will be tabled and debated in this National Assembly.
“A Green Development trajectory will ensure a diversified, resilient economy, promote sustainable development, social cohesion and good governance and protect the environment while generating wealth and employment,” the President added.Not abandoned
President Granger also noted that sugar workers have not been abandoned and neither will the industry be neglected. “Your Government recognises the importance of the sugar industry. We are restructuring the industry. The measures which have been adopted, including estate consolidation and workforce downsizing – were necessary to save the industry. We want to see a sustainable and viable industry – one that will contribute to national development and to workers' well-being,” the Head of State reassured the National Assembly.
He reiterated that workers are at the “heart of the Government's decision” on the industry. He also outlined plans to boost production in the remaining sugar estates.
“A plan is being developed to boost production in the remaining estates… The divestment of some of the sugar estates, which is expected to occur as early as the first half of 2019, will see some displaced workers being afforded the opportunity to regain employment.”
However, it is under Granger's leadership that saw the firing of 7000 plus sugar workers without a social impact assessment done. Many ex-workers are still finding it hard to secure new jobs, and many of them have spoken publicly about the daily struggles to survive.Oil revenue
And while there is major concern over the Government's management and handling of the oil revenues to come on stream in 2020, President Granger again assured the National Assembly that Government is strategically positioned to manage the oil and gas sector.
“Your Government is taking steps to ensure that the revenues which accrue from the sector will not be squandered but, instead, will be invested strategically in building human and institutional capacity, addressing our infrastructural deficit and providing economic security for future generations,” he said to some whispers of astonishment from the Opposition side.The President continued, “Your Government is committed to transparency in the management of this sector. We have made public the petroleum contracts signed between investors and the Government of Guyana. Work is continuing, also, on the Petroleum Commission Bill which has been re-drafted and forwarded to the Department of Energy for review.”
However, Government's commitment to transparency was questioned when it was discovered that it had received a US$18 million as a signing bonus from United States-oil giant Exxon Mobil. They had failed to disclose that it had received the money since 2016 but also deposited it into a private account at the Bank of Guyana (BoG) instead of the Consolidated Fund.
Government had defended its actions saying that the money was placed at the Bank of Guyana since Government had intended to use it to pay the legal team that would represent Guyana's interest at the World Court regarding the border controversy with its western neighbour Venezuela. The money was never placed into the Fund and there are still many unanswered questions.
But Granger said, “Your Government will ensure that oil revenues are prudently managed for the present and future generations in accordance with our objective of securing the good life for all. We shall do this through a natural resources fund which will be established before first oil in 2020. Priority will be given to investments in human capital…” he added.
While Government has laid a Green Paper on the natural resources fund, before this Assembly, in August, there has been no effort to table any other legislation that will guide the industry. This includes a local content policy and the Petroleum Commission, among others.
Story by Samuel Sukhnandan from Guyana Times
guyanatimesgy.com 19 11 2018
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