There is a common folk aphorism in Guyana – if ya mek yaself grass, cow gon lay down pun ya! In this my first letter to any media in two years, I read the article published today (in Kaieteur News) where Mr Khemraj Ramjattan, leader of the AFC, falsely claims that the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) promised to re-negotiate the Production Sharing Agreement (PSA) with ExxonMobil and it is patently unprofessional and irresponsible for this media house to repeat this falsehood especially knowing that it is false.
Before our re-election to government, I attended or watched every single press conference held the by the General Secretary of the People’s Progressive Party and then Leader of the Opposition, Honourable Bharrat Jagdeo, before our political party was re-elected and there were many instances when he was asked by reporters from newspaper if the PPP were re-elected would we re-negotiate the contract with Exxon and on every single instance he expressly stated that we would not and immediately provided a list of measures which would be implemented including “better contract administration”.
Mr Jagdeo also stated that all other PSAs would not receive the same contract terms because we were no longer a frontier basin. The videos are on Youtube and on Facebook as evidence of all of this and it must be that this media house knows this. During the campaign, we went into every community and this is what was said by all of our candidates.
The Manifesto summary says, “engage oil and gas companies in better contract administration/re-negotiation”. That “/” is there for a reason and captures the position just outlined i.e. we would have better contract administration with Exxon and renegotiate better terms with all other oil and gas companies.
I have done interviews with this media house (Kaieteur News) on numerous occasions re-stating this position. So, while I will not speak on any sector outside of my portfolio, as a member of the PPP this falsity about the PPP’s position leading into the election must be corrected for the record.
As for Mr Ramjattan who is yet to share the information he has about the missing Russians and the missing Statement of Polls, he has not said one word of condemnation of the disgraceful saga with the US$18 signature bonus which was lied about by the APNU-AFC government and the worse re-negotiation of an oil contract in modern history.
In fact, he seems to proffer an explanation by saying “Sugar was eating up our treasury’s money. What do you do? Your need a brand new revenue stream … although it was an imperfect decision”. Incredible! The worse re-negotiation of an oil contract in modern history is described as an “imperfect decision”.
In fact, I remember clearly Mr Ramjattan went on to do an interview just before the election seeking to discredit the criticism about the re-negotiated contract and the APNU-AFC paid for a full-page ad which falsely claimed that the “Government Take” would be 63%. Apparently, the math wizards in the APNU-AFC calculated that 2% royalty + 50% profit oil = 63%. Go figure!
While we can disagree until the cows come home, Guyanese do not have to become grass because a falsehood advances a position which is not agreed on. We all have responsibilities.
Honourable Charles S. Ramson MP