Former Natural Resources Minister, Robert Persaud, has written to the Exxon Foundation requesting that a review be done on the planned investment areas that will be funded by the organisation’s US$10Mdonation.
In his letter, Persaud also lauded the foundation’s plan to invest US$10 Million over the next five years into programmes which will advance Guyana’s sustainable economy through investments in education, research, sustainable management and conservation of the country’s vast ecosystems.
Given the outline of the investment plans, Persaud noted that the funds should be “tailored to more specific areas of national importance” as the local economy evolves into an oil producing and exporting nation.
He suggested that the emphasis should be on the improvement of the local content and benefits of the economy in a more holistic manner, than to those of the environmental sector.
The key beneficial partner, previous media reports have indicated, would be the University of Guyana (UG).
The former government minister said that while this is “very appropriate”, UG is not suitable for Guyana’s current economic priorities, as their objective and mandate will be “biased.”
He reiterated that the emphasis must be on the development of the local sectors for the entire value chain of the new oil sector
to receive the benefits.
Persaud in directly addressing Exxon’s philanthropic arm, advised the organisation that the support they wish to offer should aim to support the productive capacity in the most expansive form, including all government interventions, measures or programmes that aim to increase shares of employment, services, manufacturing provisions and overall financial value to the local industry value-chain.
Last month, the ExxonMobil Foundation announced that it will contribute US$10 million to a new collaboration with Conservation International and the University of Guyana to train Guyanese for sustainable job opportunities and to expand community-supported conservation.
The investment is also intended to support Guyana’s Green State Development Plan, the country’s 15-year development plan that aims, among other things, to diversify Guyana’s economy and balance economic growth with the sustainable management and conservation of the country’s ecosystems.
Conservation International is seen as the environmental watchdog, therefore, its collaboration with Exxon has been seen as a conflict of interest by some politicians, and political commentators.