GEORGETOWN, Guyana, February 7, 2020 (CMC) – The main opposition People’s Progressive Party-Civic (PPP-C) has dismissed, as a “lame excuse”, the allegations by the ruling coalition administration that a United Kingdom-based anti-corruption organisation is seeking to interfere in the March 2 regional and general election.
The government, earlier this week, issued a statement condemning the 28-page report, by Global Witness, on the oil industry in Guyana, in which it claimed that the agreement signed with the US-based oil giant, ExxonMobil, in 2016, would deprive the country of up to US$55 billion.
“The government of Guyana views the report as a cunning and calculated attack on a sovereign state, with a duly elected government, mere weeks before an election. This timing cannot be seen as a coincidence, and it appears as though it is seeking to influence the electoral outcome,” the government statement noted.
But speaking at his weekly news conference, Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo, said the PPP-C had nothing to do with the commissioning of the report, titled “Signed Away: How Exxon’s Exploitative Deal Deprived Guyana Of Up To US$55 Billion”.
“The People’s Progressive Party did not bring Global Witness, here. We have no such powers over Global Witness, which is an international NGO (Non-Governmental Organisation),” Jagdeo said.
“I suspect that its presence, here, was largely triggered by this government’s own act,” Jagdeo said, adding that the explanations, given by those dismissing the report, was “lame”.
“I have seen some of the most lame explanations, and really…they believe that Guyanese are really, really, really stupid to give these explanations to our people.
“But they knew about this report, they knew about Global Witness’ presence in Guyana and, apparently, they came since March or July, last year…and therefore, the government commissioned a report in September, from Clyde and Company,” he said, adding “now I am wondering ..why would you want to do such a thing?”, suggesting it was aimed at rebutting the Global Witness report.
Jagdeo said the report, by the UK-based group, cannot be easily dismissed, and has given the assurance that should the PPP-C win the next general election, it would conduct its own review into the agreement.
The government has dismissed suggestions, by Global Witness, for Guyana to suspend oil production, so as to re-negotiate the contract with the US oil company.
Prime Minister, Moses Nagamootoo, told a public meeting of the ruling coalition — A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) and the Alliance For Change (AFC) — this week, that the government signed the agreement with ExxonMobil, so as to preserve the country’s sovereignty, in the face of Venezuela’s claim to ownership of sections of Guyana.
“We stood up and we decided that we would have to negotiate, and negotiate quickly, before the oil company pull out from Guyana. We knew that we were under threat, and they gave us a cash signing bonus of US$18 million, so that we take the best lawyers in the world to defend our territory, to defend our land, to defend our oil and gas resources,” Nagamootoo said.