first_imgDear Editor,I must commend ExxonMobil for being open with us by releasing the exciting news that the Stabroek Block will yield over four billion oil equivalent barrels, an increase from an earlier estimate of 3.2 billion oil equivalent barrels.This is fantastic, because ExxonMobil could have hidden this find; but it appears to me that they want to be open and fair with the Government and people of Guyana, and I compliment and thank them for adopting this approach.Exxon has reported that Liza Phase 1 will produce 120,000 barrels of oil per day, and Liza Phase 2 will have the capacity to produce 220,000 barrels of oil per day.This is monumental. To put it in perspective, Trinidad and Tobago does not have the capacity to produce oil at this daily rate with 100 wells. We have to understand what this means to Guyana economically. The Guyanese people need to prepare themselves for this flush of wealth, and learn how to invest money wisely and make more wealth.I sincerely hope that Guyana’s oil revenue will trickle down to the ordinary man. I also hope money from our oil bonanza goes towards noble initiatives, such as upgrading the University of Guyana to the highest level, to make it a world class institution where people from around the world, even from developed countries, would want to come and study. I look forward to Guyana having modern institutions of technology and top-of-the-line schools with the best laboratories and equipment to produce sterling minds.I also hope the oil wealth would be used to provide opportunities to those who have lost jobs through no fault of their own, such as the GuySuCo workers, who are now on the breadline.Some of the oil money should go towards improving and modernizing struggling sectors of our economy. A primary beneficiary should be agriculture, which has been a significant contributor to our economy for decades, and has provided several generations of people with food on their tables. It should be diversified and developed to a level that puts Guyana in contention once again to be the ‘bread basket of the Caribbean’.Our agriculture industry can benefit greatly from the incorporation of new initiatives such as hydroponics. We can also develop new breeds and seeds, initiatives to make agriculture more vibrant and efficient, so we can increase exports and get more foreign exchange, as well as create jobs in the sector for young and old persons.This would be a perfect opportunity to promote entrepreneurship among our people. Our manufacturing sector can also be expanded, allowing us to develop cottage industries and even larger manufacturing operations, so that we can make our own packaging materials and other inputs, which we are currently forced to import.But I am concerned about politicians being in control of our oil revenue, because I know how much some of them crave power and wealth. Just take a look at Equatorial Guinea, an oil producing nation in Africa that discovered oil about two decades ago. The average citizen is still poor, while the politicians have filled their pockets.The country’s oil riches have not, in any way, improved the lives of ordinary Equatorial Guineans, because the government has squandered enormous wealth on foolish projects like highways to nowhere and empty 5-star hotels, while filling the pockets of family members. The president’s son, Teodorin Obiang, is reportedly filthy rich, and his global assets are said to be in excess of US$300 million, while the people suffer.So, yes. Some politicians elevate their relatives and friends to positions of power and authority, where they can benefit for themselves. Some establish fake industries and businesses that are really under the control of greedy political powerhouses in government, who want the entire nation’s wealth for their personal benefit.Equatorial Guinea also fell victim to the infamous ‘Dutch disease’, which refers to countries letting their economies become overly dependent on boom-industries and neglecting other sectors. This leads to a massive imbalance in exports, and extreme vulnerability to oil market trends, which is what happened to the Dutch after the discovery of rich natural gas deposits.They relied too heavily on petroleum exports, and this reduced other exports disproportionately, with dire consequences for other sectors, especially manufacturing. In the case of Equatorial Guinea, oil accounts for more than 95% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Secondary sectors represent about 2 per cent of the GDP, and manufacturing represents less than 1 per cent.We don’t want this to happen here. We want the oil money to trickle down to the common man, and we want a diversified economy, with strong agricultural and manufacturing sectors. God knows, we deserve it after enduring many long, hard years in Guyana, despite our agriculture, despite our gold and other minerals.As I see it, there are enough questionable Government decisions and actions for patriots to be suspicious about allowing Government to have total control of the nation’s oil wealth. That is why I and other concerned Guyanese are so anxious for the nation to set up a proper Sovereign Wealth Fund that is not under political control; that is run by highly educated and experienced persons representing multiple interest groups; and with appropriate checks and balances in place to avoid corruption and mismanagement of our oil money.In fact, I believe Guyana’s ability to put in place a well-crafted and independently managed Sovereign Wealth Fund, with full accountability and transparency and full public support across all ethnic, political, religious and other divide, is the single most important factor that will save this nation from going down the same road as Equatorial Guinea and other nations infected with the dreaded Dutch disease.As I wrote several times before, Guyana’s vast reservoir of oil revenue will definitely fatten the eyes of every corrupt politician and official. Even those who are not yet corrupt will be exposed to enormous temptation. How many would be unable to resist? We need to bear this in mind when setting up our Sovereign Wealth Fund or any other agency that controls or monitors our oil funds.ExxonMobil’s apparent transparency is commendable, and that company has the opportunity to etch its name in Guyana’s history, and leave a legacy of honour and dignity not only for the credibility and welfare of the company itself, but also for the prosperity and happiness of the Guyanese people.To do so, the company must be a good corporate citizen and assist any administration in power to educate citizens about crime prevention, and help put in place mechanisms that ensure crime is not exacerbated, like in Trinidad and Tobago, where I believe oil riches became a curse and blight to the economy because it came with massive corruption and criminal violence that is now firmly entrenched.Sincerely,Roshan Khan Srlast_img

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *