Jagdeo wants apolitical approach to oil sector

first_imgGovernment should approach the oil and gas sector in Guyana in a manner that is completely devoid of partisan politics, so that sound policies and plans could be put in place for future generations to benefit from this industry and resource.This is the view firmly expressed by Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo, who said Government needs to approach this issue in a manner that ensures active stakeholder participation and input.While the Opposition has stated its willingness to participate in those discussions, Jagdeo said that does not mean the Opposition is ‘begging for a place at the table’.“We are not (begging for a place at the table), but there are some best practices in this area, particularly in the oil and gas sector; and the several models we have looked at showed that the ones that yield the best results in managing oil and gas resources for the good of the country are the models that emphasize apolitical approach,” he explained.Jagdeo declared that not only should political parties be included in discussions on the future of the oil and gas industry, but members of civil society and interest groups should equally be involved.The former President said having local groups and institutions involved in the decision-making process for this sector would be good for Guyana.He said, “It would allow people — the whole of the country — to buy into this model. And it would not require us to change anything if or when the Government changes.”The Opposition has already expressed its willingness to participate in discussions regarding the planning of a Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF) and the setting up of a body such as a Petroleum Commission, which would help to guide sound management of the impending oil and gas sector in Guyana.Maintaining that institutions set up to manage the oil and gas sector must be free of politics, Jagdeo said he knows of examples where countries rich in oil resources and exporting millions of barrels of oil earn miniscule finances because they have treated the sector in a political fashion.“If it is treated in an apolitical manner, then our country will make long-term progress. We will be able to really translate the barrels (exported) and revenue earned to real development for our people. But it has to be treated in that manner if we are to see some progress,” he maintained.The Opposition feels the Government is dragging its feet on the issue, and needs to start making moves to prepare now for first oil in 2020. Jagdeo said the issue is not about rushing the process, but about taking all the necessary steps to prepare for an industry that could bring enormous benefits to Guyana.Government, through acting Prime Minister Carl Greenidge, recently admitted that the recent high-level caucus for Cabinet Ministers to engage global thinkers and experts on natural resource management as part of the agenda to prepare for petroleum production in 2020 was in fact mundane, or low-key.Greenidge said the caucus was not aimed at learning something new, but at exchanging experiences with those who have been teaching or working on petroleum issues across the globe.The event was seen by Opposition parties as a political stunt put on by Government to show Guyanese that something is seriously being done.Government is yet to produce a model for the Sovereign Wealth Fund and one for the setting up of a Petroleum Commission.While plans are moving apace for a National Oil Spill Contingency Plan, other important aspects that will help to guide the sector in future years are either in draft stages or are nowhere close to being completed.last_img read more