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Granger slipped on oil

Dear Editor,
When caretaker President Granger addresses the attendees at the opening of GIPEX, they should know a bit about his track record with oil, in order to put his speech into context. The Golden Jubilee celebration was the priority for David Granger’s first year in office.
Even though the breakthrough news of the discovery of oil in commercial quantities was made ten days into his administration, it (oil) was not treated as a matter of great importance, or requiring urgent attention.
The Treasury had US$968 million, the economy was recording growth seemingly on auto-pilot, the debt-to-GDP ratio was under 50%. To Granger and his cohorts, oil simply meant there was no need for prudence and thrift anymore, oil would flow soon enough and fill all holes in the Treasury; the ‘Good Life’ had begun.
So far so good; but it is now the end of 2019, the Treasury is empty, the oil will only trickle for the next two years; it cannot sustain, much less refill, the holes created. To add insult to injury, Granger neglected to prepare the nation for oil production. This failure has become all too real as the barrels are being made ready for when the taps turn on in approximately six weeks’ time.
Granger’s failure to learn about oil, its production and industry, resulted in him leaving the responsibility for the sector with Raphael Trotman, a woefully inadequate choice given what followed. Trotman led a team dubbed the ‘Quintet+1’ by Granger, and the team collectively failed to understand what ExxonMobil wanted during the renegotiation of the ExxonMobil contract in 2016.
The Quintet+1 accepted a US$18 million bonus in exchange for a four-year extension of the exploration rights in the 6.6 million-acre Stabroek block.
Relinquishment provisions were not brought into effect, and ExxonMobil continues to race against the clock to explore as many prospects as possible before the next renegotiation/relinquishment becomes due in November 2020.
The aforementioned US$18million caused many disturbances locally when its very existence was denied by the Minister of Finance, Winston Jordan. Granger eventually took the blame for the non-revelation of the bonus, and also assumed responsibility for the ministerial oil portfolio, which became his first and only portfolio during his entire administration.
Granger left the sector dormant until 1st August 2018, when he announced the creation of a (DoE) Department of Energy “to effectively manage the hydrocarbon resources of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana”. The Department is a study in abject failure.
Granger’s experience with the ‘Quintet+1’ seemingly clouded his judgment; instead of hiring an experienced professional in the petroleum industry, Granger turned to a trusted crony, Dr. Mark Bynoe, a part-time lecturer at the University of Guyana. Bynoe has failed to deliver on any aspect of his mandate, most notably a Local Content Policy. However, other important areas, such as development of industry audit capabilities and a production monitoring system/unit have not been serviced.
Bynoe has developed an IDB consultant- dependency, seeking the services of high-priced consultants via loans from the IDB. These consultants rewrite the same reports in endless variations for those too lazy to do their thinking, or possess feeble minds. Bynoe is more comfortable in classroom settings, where he can pontificate to schoolchildren without fear of hard questions or contradiction.
In Bynoe we see an example of Bernard Shaw’s “those who can, do; those who can’t, teach”.
The failure lies not with Bynoe, but squarely with David Granger. Guyana needed someone who could grasp the issues, and build a team to provide solutions. Granger gave us a trusted crony, made in his image; a square peg in a round hole. What can David Granger tell anyone about oil?
Going forward, Guyanese will soon have to choose between staying with the Granger model of governance or Irfaan Ali’s team-based approach, where professionals with a proven track record of project management, timely delivery, and intellectual capability can deliver solutions for the benefit of all Guyanese. Elections are on the 2nd of March 2020.

Robin Singh      GUYANA TIMES

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