The Government, through the Guyana Office for Investment (Go-Invest), is hosting an event described as “The Guyana International Petroleum Business Summit (GIPEX 2018)”.
We have examined the programme and it does not help one to understand what is the true nature and objective of this event. This activity seems to be another “bread and circus” exhibition, which the Government will use in its propagandistic efforts to divert attention away from the real problems of joblessness, poverty, crime and overall hopelessness engulfing the nation.
The Government has developed a propensity to launch distractive confabulations like these to hide its incompetence and incapacity to deal with the real problems facing our citizens.
From the outset, we have stated that any competent Government inviting investment interests in the sector must set out clear policy objectives; must establish the requisite architecture and create an attractive environment that will conduce to investments. None of these prerequisites currently exists.
On the contrary, the entire sector is mired in controversies, chaos and confusion.
The Petroleum Bill that ought to set out the legal framework and policy infrastructure for the sector is still in a Select Committee in the National Assembly, which Select Committee has never even met. The Bill itself is deeply flawed, in that it preponderates excessive power and authority in the subject Minister. Even the Minister is on record as so admitting and has promised to shed some of these powers.
The promised Sovereign Wealth Fund has not been established; neither is there any clear policy in relation to local content. The contract itself is overwhelmed in controversy. The signing bonus still resides, unlawfully and unconstitutionally, in an account in the Central Bank instead of the Consolidated Fund. No explanation is forthcoming from the Government in respect of the multiplicity of criticisms and queries raised in the press and by Guyanese everywhere about the contract. All we have from the Government is a glib indication that future contracts will not be similarly structured and negotiated.
There is absolutely no clarity on the Government’s “Green State Strategy”; neither is there any guidance in respect of how this will impact or interface with the petroleum sector.
In the circumstances, we have no alternative but to conclude that this event is another publicity gimmick of the Government, where those in attendance will have to endure another platitudinal speech of the President and more exhibition of Minister Trotman’s remarkable incompetence.