Upon examining the details of the alarming Global Witness report, “Signed Away,” the government has labelled the document to be purely “sensationalist, agenda-driven and extraordinarily speculative.”
The report, which was released on Monday, examines the role Minister of Natural Resources, Raphael Trotman played during negotiations with ExxonMobil for the Stabroek Block Production Sharing Agreement (PSA). The report went further to suggest that Trotman solicited expert advice but may have ignored same. Further to this, Global Witness said that the deal which was wrapped up in a record 12 weeks, saw Guyana leaving US$55B on the table.
The government,on the other hand, is saying that the report and its inherent conclusions are baseless. The government, in its statement to the media moments ago, also stressed that the international anti-corruption body presented absolutely no evidence of corruption or malpractice on the part of the Government or its officials.
Furthermore, the coalition administration said it views the report as a cunning and calculated attack on a sovereign state with a duly elected Government that is preparing for an election on March 2. “This timing cannot be seen as a coincidence and it appears as though it is seeking to influence the electoral outcome,”the government said.
The APNU+AFC Party also took issue with the report’s recommendation that Guyana “should allow no additional drilling in the Stabroek license” and “should also cancel its nine other allocated licenses and not award any new licenses”.
The government said that this is arbitrary and utterly absurd while reiterating that its deal with Exxon is a fair agreement for the people of Guyana. It noted that the benefits from the said deal include a 50 per cent profit oil take, a two percent royalty, Withholding taxes, and an US$18,000,000 signing bonus.
Further to this, the Government said it maintains its position that there were geo-political and national security imperatives which influenced the deal it negotiated. The Global Witness report refuted this position that the government has been peddling since 2015, saying that there was no merit to it being used as an excuse for a poorly negotiated deal.
The Government was also keen to point out that Global Witness completely ignored the analyses and reviews done by credible companies such as the Norway-based Rystad Energy and experts including Sir Paul Collier of the prestigious Oxford University.
Additionally, the government highlighted that countless organizations have shared their optimism about Guyana’s future based on sound economic analysis. It said that some of these agencies include Nasdaq, and other regional and multinational agencies such as the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).
It is significant to note that none of these agencies examined the period of negotiations that took place between Trotman and ExxonMobil, which is what the Global Witness report attempted to examine.