by Gary Eleazar
Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo on Tuesday called Minister of Natural Resources, Raphael Trotman’s recent pronouncements on how oil revenues will trickle down to ordinary Guyanese “charlatan analysis.”
“Now you hear they (administration) gonna give the money to Regions but they have not even decided on element of the Sovereign Wealth Fund but they already talking about how they will give the money give out.”
Jagdeo was at the time speaking to reporters at his party’s weekly Freedom House press conference and used the occasion to respond to Minister Trotman’s supposition, of utilizing oil revenues across the regions, as against direct disbursements to the citizenry. The privately-owned Stabroek News newspaper on Tuesday quoted Trotman as saying that disbursement of oil revenues to the regions would be a better option rather than creating expectations today that cannot be fulfilled later if the price of oil reduces significantly in the coming years.
The former president turned Opposition Leader was quick to dismiss Minister Trotman’s suggestions, saying that government is currently still unclear as to how exactly and through what mechanisms oil revenues would be accessed from the proposed Sovereign Oil Wealth Fund.
Jagdeo—a Russian trained economist—further told reporters the administration cannot at this point in time be able to say how much money will be in the fund since they do not know what price oil will be in 2020.
He questions what obtains come 2020 if oil prices are low and the operators (ExxonMobil) will need to clear billions in expenses first.
The former president accused Minister Trotman of resorting to ‘charlatan analysis’ to sell the image of bright future with lots of jobs for Guyana and its citizenry.
Trotman is being accused of utilizing a multi-million dollar ‘slush-fund’ to engage in politics around the country with the oil and gas sectors, since he has no clear information on what is currently being done in such a critical sector of the economy.
The Opposition Leader pointed to the proposed onshore base at crab-island to provide support services for the industry and said he is willing to make a significant ‘political wager’ that the proposal will bear no fruit.
According to Jagdeo ExxonMobil has already publicly stated it has no plans on utilizing such a facility and questioned where the administration would find an investor to put in the US$500M touted by the administration.
According to Jagdeo, it is only an extremely stupid investor that will plug that type of money into a project with no contract in place to allow for recouping the investments and to make a profit.
Turning his attention to Minister Trotman’s supposed employment of a ‘slush-fund’ for political work, Jagdeo said this was the case since the Minister himself does not have a clear idea as to what is taking place, evident in his numerous contradicting statements.
The former president suggested that the Ministry of Natural Resources can easily make printouts such as newsletters clearly outlying the administration’s plans as against spending tens of millions of dollars to speak to seven persons that turn up at a public meeting.
He observed, however, that in order for the administration to clearly outline its plans, it will require clarity and they will be called on to explain and provide details.