Oil and Gas Consultant Charles Ramson Jnr. is not the least bit impressed with the government’s belated transfer into the Treasury of the US$18M signing bonus it received from ExxonMobil in 2016. In fact, the petroleum academic told the Guyana Standard this evening that he firmly believes it was done merely because general and regional elections are around the corner and the government wants to pretend to be transparent.
The attorney-at-law also said that the move is an attempt by the government to buy votes.
Ramson said, “This US$18M signing bonus is well documented and it was an absolute scandal when it occurred. This government had to be taken to court over the matter…We must also remember that even though it was transferred to the Consolidated Fund, they took over two years to do so. So this move, it is not genuine. Elections [are] around the corner and that is why they did it.”
Lending his voice to the matter as well was head of the Transparency International Guyana Inc., Dr Troy Thomas. He said that the transfer is great news but he is still concerned as to why it took the government so long to do the right thing.
The TIGI Head is also disappointed that, once again, it was the media that had to reveal that the transfer was done. He bemoaned the fact that the State Assets Recovery Agency (SARA) was not informed of the status of the matter since it was asked recently to conduct a probe on the issue but responded saying that there was no need to do so since it was being held at Central Bank. “So even SARA was unaware that this money was transferred since January,” Dr Thomas said.
The TIGI Head added, “I believe that this is what they should have done in the first place. Their initial arguments for not doing so didn’t hold any weight. There was no need to keep it a secret even if they had a purpose for it.”
Dr Thomas said that he is nonetheless happy that it is finally in the Consolidated Fund where it can be under proper parliamentary scrutiny.