In the eyes of former Presidential Advisor , Dr. Jan Mangal, the major political parties of the day have failed miserably to demonstrate that they have the people’s interest at heart when it comes to making crucial decisions and plans for Guyana’s oil. As a result of this failure, the Oil and Gas Consultant predicts that neither the APNU+AFC Coalition administration nor the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) would enjoy the majority of seats in the National Assembly following the March 2 elections. But should the PPP win the next elections, and secure a majority, Dr. Mangal said he is of the firm view that Guyana may become the next resource curse on steroids.
The Petroleum Consultant made these and other assertions as part of his contribution to the Inter-American Dialogue, an international platform that engages a network of global leaders to foster democratic governance, prosperity, and social equity in Latin America and the Caribbean. In one of its most recent publications, Dr. Mangal noted that the people of Guyana are between a rock and a hard place. He commented that the governing APNU/AFC coalition and the PPP squandered the period since the last election in 2015.
Dr. Mangal said they do not have much that is new to offer independent voters and the indigenous population, and they are focusing on their base supporters. Expounding further, the Petroleum Consultant said, “The first battle for the coalition government in 2015 needed to be internal. But it failed to transform the operation of the government, it failed to instill a sense of urgency (especially with oil), it failed to focus on making ministers and officials accountable for performance, and it failed to attract Indo-Guyanese.”
Even now, Dr. Mangal posited that the government continues to blunder and alienate crucial independent voters. The Consultant was also keen to place under the microscope, the government’s reaction to a recent report by Global Witness, an international NGO, which said that Guyana left US$55B on the table due to poor negotiations with ExxonMobil. He noted that the government deemed the report to be a mere conspiracy theory, hence it came across as defensive when instead it should be seen as sensible and in control.
As for the opposition PPP, Dr. Mangal said that it needed to shed its cabal of tainted leadership, but instead, it strengthened the hand of those accused of corruption prior to 2015. Dr. Mangal said the PPP also made no progress in transforming itself into a multi-racial party.
Due to intractable problems with the Coalition government and PPP Opposition, and the absence of Constitutional Reform to make politicians accountable, the Petroleum Consultant opined that independent voters may deny either of these duopolies an outright majority in the next parliament. Further to this, he said that independent voters may hope new third parties can act as ‘honest brokers’ in the next Parliament.
Dr. Mangal concluded, “If the PPP wins with a majority, Guyana may become the next resource curse on steroids, with lots of white-elephant projects. And if the ruling Coalition wins with a majority, Guyana may continue to blunder along and give away its oil wealth.”