Despite facing criticism from the opposition on the short timeline provided for the public to review the recently released drafts of the new model Production Sharing Agreements(PSAs), the government has remained silent.
Last Tuesday, the Ministry of Natural Resources released the draft model PSAs that will govern the deep and shallow water concessions and initiated a two-week public consultation period for the public to review the document and make suggestions. The opposition was quick to flog the government over the short timeline given, noting that agreements which will set the tone for Guyana’s future oil deals are too important for a mere two weeks of public scrutiny.
The criticisms started at a virtual press conference hosted by the Office of the Leader of the Opposition last Thursday, when Economic and Youth Policy Advisor of the Opposition, Elson Low, noted that the documents should be debated in the National Assembly before finalization. He further insinuated that the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) government seems to have a knack for allowing the public insufficient time to scrutinise their deals and agreements. “The PPP believes two weeks is sufficient for review, just as they believed two weeks was sufficient to review the Natural Resources Fund Bill in 2021. It would appear that the more money involved, the less the PPP wants Guyanese to see these documents,” Low stated.
His statements were also echoed by PNCR Executive Member, Mervyn Williams, who slammed the government for the lack of parliamentary oversight over the country’s natural resources.
Following the Office of the Leader of the Opposition’s press conference, the Alliance for Change (AFC) held a similar media engagement where they joined criticisms against the PPP government and blamed it for the non-functioning parliamentary committee on natural resources.
While the ministry has yet to respond to these criticisms, it did address by way of statements, several other issues. Just yesterday, the ministry issued a full statement in response to claims that “Guyana is going nowhere” which were made by University of the West Indies lecturer and Jamaican Economist, Dr Damien King, as he addressed the government’s management of the Guyanese economy.
Then today, the ministry released yet another strongly worded statement to dispel a report carried in the media which sought to question the audit of US$9 billion costs for the Payara project. That venture is being led by Stabroek Block operator and ExxonMobil’s affiliate, Esso Exploration and Production Guyana Limited.
In the interim, the public has seven days remaining to send suggestions on the draft model PSAs.