Former Agriculture Minister and Opposition Member, Dr. Leslie Ramsammy is of the firm view that a Commission of Inquiry is urgently needed into the 2016 Production Agreement the Granger administration signed onto with American oil giant, ExxonMobil.
In his most recent commentary, the PPP member said, ”that we were bamboozled and swindled is not debatable. The question now is if anyone personally gained.”
The former Minister’s call for an inquiry follows the release of a scathing Global Witness report which focuses on negotiations that took place between Minister of Natural Resources, Raphael Trotman and Exxon for the oil rich Stabroek Block. The report titled, “Signed Away” also highlights the very poor fiscal terms Guyana accepted for its block that now holds over 8 billion barrels of oil equivalent resource.
Dr. Ramsammy said, “When Global Witness tells Guyana we have a bad oil deal, that someone, or some people signed away, at least $US55B, they said nothing new. For several years now, the PPP and other independent voices have been saying Guyana had a bad deal…”
He added, “Some generously insist Guyana was bamboozled because the Granger-led APNU+AFC negotiating team was inexperienced. Others say the team was just simply stupid. But most Guyanese feel sinister motives resulted in a bad deal…We were swindled or bought out or maybe both. Without an investigation, we can only surmise and guess.”
Dr. Ramsammy also said that one needs to bear in mind, the very poor fiscal terms Guyana accepted from ExxonMobil. In this regard, he pointed out that the $US18M signing bonus the government received is an insult. For much less, he noted that Brazil got $US726M while Suriname got $US100M as a signing bonus.
He also noted that the production agreement for the Stabroek Block which sees Guyana accepting a 2% royalty, when industry standards exceeded 7% and reached as much as 30%, not only amplifies the need for an inquiry but seriously raises worrying questions.