Vexatious, inhumane and abusive is what Opposition Member, Ganesh Mahipaul had to say after learning of ExxonMobil’s admission that Guyana’s oil is paying for its US$160M Ogle office.
Confirmation that the country will be footing the bill was made during a press conference today by Exxon Guyana’s President, Alistair Routledge. The official was asked to respond to concerns recently tabled in parliament by Mahipaul regarding the recovery of costs for the building.
Routledge said the Ogle complex will serve as the main centre for Exxon’s while noting that it will be critical to supporting the efficiency of its operations offshore. Routledge said the Kingstown office is currently bursting at the seams to contain 250 workers. He said this workforce will increase to 500.
Routledge was keen to note that the local headquarters will be fully equipped with monitoring rooms to which government will have access. He said too that Exxon makes monthly reports to the Ministry of Natural Resources on how construction cost and benchmarking is moving along.
Speaking with Guyana Standard moments ago, Mahipaul said he is saddened to learn that the country will be covering these costs.
Mahipaul said his question which was tabled for reply by Natural Resources Minister, Vickram Bharrat, since to his knowledge, there were intense discussions between the APNU+AFC regime and Exxon on whether these costs should be allowed for cost recovery.
The opposition member said, “I am unaware that there was final confirmation between APNU+AFC and them for there to be a campus to the tune of US$160M which is equivalent to $32B…If there was a direction for this, I highly doubt APNU would have committed the people of Guyana to such an exorbitant cost.”
What is an even greater point of note, Mahipaul said, is the fact that Vice President, Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo had said just days before the 2020 General and Regional Elections, that Exxon would not be allowed to recover the cost in question.
“Guyana standard also carried the article ([https://www.guyanastandard.com/2020/02/27/ppp-govt-will-not-allow-state-to-fund-exxons-multibillion-dollar-ogle-headquarters-jagdeo/)](https://www.guyanastandard.com/2020/02/27/ppp-govt-will-not-allow-state-to-fund-exxons-multibillion-dollar-ogle-headquarters-jagdeo/ “”) “smartCard-inline”) where the Vice President, Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo made this promise. One would have expected that his party would have held to that promise because I am sure that was one of the reasons why people voted for his presidential choice, Irfaan Ali,” the politician said.
Mahipaul said it is now incumbent on the government and Exxon to provide a breakdown of the US$160M to prove to citizens that they are not being saddled with an inflated bill. He said too that citizens ought to be furnished with a breakdown of the rental costs for EEPGL’s Duke Street office.
“…I do not support such an exorbitant cost. They must show us what mechanism is in place to verify that the scope of works is in keeping with Guyana’s engineering estimates and it is not inflated. Until it is properly justified to the citizens, it stands as an abuse and unnecessary expense. I am saddened and disappointed by the fact that Guyanese have to foot this bill given the current state of this country with high cost of living…,” an impassioned Mahipaul said.
The opposition member said the very least government could do at this point, is come clean on the expenses incurred. He intends to continue the pressure for answers on this matter.
EEPGL’s headquarters is being built on a parcel of land leased from Ogle Airport Inc., near the Eugene F. Correia International (Ogle) Airport. The campus is expected to comprise two office buildings, an outdoor pavilion, parking areas and associated infrastructure.
Construction is expected to be completed in 2023.