Jagdeo says Govt had ‘no compelling reason to keep it secret any longer’

first_imgExxonMobil contract…after exposure of “sinister plan to squirrel-way US$18M”Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo on Thursday said he would be examining the released ExxonMobil contract over the next few days before sharing his perspectives on its contents and the circumstances which forced the Government to make it public.Jagdeo maintained his position that the contract negotiated between the Government and the US-based oil company should have been made public from the inception as there was nothing impeding its release.Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo“The reason for refusing to make the contract with ExxonMobil public over a year-and-a-half after it was signed, in spite of a relentless campaign by the media, many civil society and international organisations and the parliamentary political Opposition, was made apparent now that the contract has emerged today. The now revealed contract exposes the false claims by the Government that a clause inserted in the Petroleum Act by the People’s Progressive Party and national security concerns prevented its disclosure,” the Opposition Leader maintained.He argued that the primary reason for keeping the agreement secret, despite it being registered at the Deeds Registry which made it a public document, is contained in Article 33, which provides for a signing-bonus of US$18 million.“The signing bonus as revealed by diligent work done by the media (<<>> being at the forefront), was paid into a secret account at the Bank of Guyana with strict instructions not to transfer it into the Consolidated Fund, in flagrant violation of Article 216 of the Constitution and the Fiscal Management and Accountability Act. Several Cabinet members refused to acknowledge the existence of the signing bonus. The Minister of Finance even said it was a “figment of the imagination” and that they never received a signing bonus nor did they ask for one although it was already paid into the secret account since September 2016”, he commented.Jagdeo was adamant that now that the “sinister plan to squirrel-way the US$18 million has been exposed,” there is no compelling reason to keep the agreement secret any longer.He suggested that there are still many unanswered questions that the Government needs to come clean on.“…For example, who negotiated the signing bonus and how was the figure of US$18 million arrived at?” he quizzed before stating that “over the next few days I will examine the contract in detail and offer our perspective on it” .After much criticism and public dissatisfaction, the Government on Thursday released the controversial petroleum agreement it signed with US oil giant, ExxonMobil as it announced that Guyana could pocket over US$80 billion over the next few years once commercial operations commence.Each barrel would be calculated at US$50 and worth some US$160 billion altogether. This means that Guyana would be receiving US$1 million per day and US$300 million each year based upon the agreement. This is based on the fact that some 3.2 billion barrels of oil reserves were discovered in the Stabroek block Liza 1 field.The revised agreement makes provisions for an increase in the annual rental fee from US$240,000 to US$1 million with training being increased from US$45,000 to US$300,000.It would see a new allocation of US$300,000 for social and environmental programmes and the payment of a two per cent royalty. Seventy-five per cent of the earnings would be set aside for cost recovery.The agreement also reveals that the US$18M signing bonus by ExxonMobil which was paid over to the Government but kept secret and stashed in a special Bank of Guyana account was paid for a 10-year extension of the agreement.Speaking at a ceremony flanked by State officials, civil society representatives and President David Granger at the Ministry of the Presidency on Thursday morning, Natural Resources Minister Raphael Trotman again defended the agreement and the role his Government played.Trotman did not directly address concerns over the legality of the decision to hold the monies outside of the Consolidated Fund or other serious criticisms of aspects of the deal.Meanwhile, ExxonMobil’s Country Manager, Rod Henson said Guyana would earn about US$1.5 billion from the Liza 1 well after a period of five years. He explained that US$7 billion would also be earned over a 20 year period, based on price assumptions.last_img read more

See More