‒ disjointed lead­er­ship blun­ders a de facto ref­er­en­dum come 2020 ‒ Min­is­te­rial col­lu­sion with oil com­pa­nies be­come wor­ry­ing – Ram­sa­roop

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is def­i­nitely lack of an in­te­grated ap­proach based on some plan or vi­sion for the na­tion. Lead­er­ship is surely lack­ing and this is be­ing made pa­tently ob­vi­ous as is ev­i­denced in the many (lead­er­ship) blun­ders of the coali­tion ad­min­is­tra­tion in re­cent weeks.

Dr. Peter Ram­sa­roop, Eco­nomic Ad­vi­sor to the Op­po­si­tion Leader and au­thor of “Surf­ing the Lead­er­ship Wave” re­cently ex­plored some of the blun­ders of the ad­min­is­tra­tion this past week and lashed out at the de­ci­sion mak­ing process of the Pres­i­dent and his Cabi­net.

Dr. Ram­sa­roop con­cedes that while there is learn­ing curve for any new ad­min­is­tra­tion in of­fice, more so one that has never held the reins of gov­ern­ment be­fore, sug­gests that after two plus years in of­fice it is clear that the Pres­i­dent and his Cabi­net Coun­cil of Min­is­ters are not only disjointed in their de­ci­sion mak­ing for their var­i­ous port­fo­lios, but lack ba­sic lead­er­ship skills.

Be­fore j ump­ing i nto some of the wor­ry­ing de­ci­sions taken or have failed to be taken by the ad­min­is­tra­tion, Dr. Ram­sa­roop ques­tioned whether in face of the many chal­lenges fac­ing his al­ready bloated gov­ern­ment , Pres­i­dent David Granger can’t seem to fire any­body.

“Well ex­cept for those with the in­sti­tu­tional knowl­edge and com­pe­tent per- for­mances, but would have served in tech­ni­cal and not elected po­si­tions un­der the pre­vi­ous ad­min­is­tra­tion, is Pres­i­dent Granger fit and proper to lead this na­tion? I do not believe so,” Ram­sa­roop said.

Col­lu­sion

Dr Ram­sa­roop sug­gests that per­haps his rea­son­ing can be gleaned by a re­cent ex­cur­sion funded by the lead­ing player in the game (right now) in terms of ex­plo­ration and de­vel­op­ment - Exxon Mo­bil.

“Imag­ine four Min­is­ters trav­el­ling to Exxon without a sin­gle tech­ni­cal or busi­ness per­son. What would they learn from Exxon HQ.”

The au­thor and eco­nomic ad­vi­sor stated that: “it’s what we call a boon­dog­gle trip for other fun things and maybe some net­work­ing for the fu­ture.”

Ac­cord­ing to Dr. Ram­sa­roop, Exxon Mo­bil, with its deep, deep pock­ets is no­to­ri­ous across this globe for its preda­tory prac­tices, es­pe­cially when it comes to coun­tries with lit­tle to no ex­pe­ri­ence in the in­dus­try.

He re­called that only re­cently that com­pany was slapped with a US$74B fine by the courts in Chad, an African na­tion that it had been drilling for just about 15 years. It was found guilty of un­der­pay­ing roy­al­ties to that coun­try.

In­ter­na­tional ex­perts have sug­gested that given the com­pany’s track record, that coun­try will never be paid by the com­pany.

Dr Ram­sa­roop noted that Guyanese are al­ready up in arms over the lack of trans­parency over the con­tract and li­cence is­sued to that gov­ern­ment.

“We have heard of 2% roy­al­ties off the top…off the top of what?” Dr Ram­sa­roop ques­tioned.

“Which Guyanese ex­per­tise of tech­ni­cians will ver­ify what Exxon ac­tu­ally took out of our Ex­clu­sive Eco­nomic Zone…We are told that we will share 50 per cent of the prof­its, but not be­fore Exxon and its part­ners re­cover their in­vest­ment.”

Ram­sa­roop also said the world is chang­ing at a rapid rate when it comes to the us­age of oil ver­sus other cleaner sources. 2020 can be a whole dif­fer­ent ap­proach.

“Why are we not in­vest­ing in the new seven in­dus­tries the PPP had pro­posed in their 2015 Man­i­festo,” he asked.

2%

Dr Ram­sa­roop also ques­tioned how Guyanese will ever re­ally know what was in­vested and whether costs were not in­flated among other ne­far­i­ous prac­tices.

“Guyanese could in fact find them­selves in a sit­u­a­tion where a profit is not de­clared for years to come, mean­ing we will be get­ting 2% of what­ever Exxon tells us they re­cov­ered all while they ‘re­cover their in­vest­ment.”

“Exxon is a com­pany in the busi­ness of mak­ing money in an in­dus­try where the prices are not only volatile, but where there is in­creas­ing com­pe­ti­tion from re­new­able and cleaner sources of en­ergy such as hy­dropower, so­lar and ocean cur­rents to name a few,” he noted.

He said in light of this, “why would politi­cians with lit­er­ally no ex­pe­ri­ence in this field take such a trip, funded by the very com­pany…“Why would Exxon host just the gov­ern­ment, is there col­lu­sion?”

One vo­cal lo­cal com­men­ta­tor had some years ago writ­ten that there is noth­ing like ‘free chowmein,’ and as such Dr Ram­sa­roop queried as to why Granger’s Min­is­ters would believe that they must not safe­guard them­selves against the pit­falls of this in­dus­try.

There has been lots of talk about learn­ing the lessons of oth­ers in avoid­ing the Dutch Dis­ease, a sit­u­a­tion that ob­tains where a na­tion’s oil re­sources are squan­dered through cor­rupt and ill con­ceived prac­tices, but there is lit­tle to no talk about the dan­gers of be­ing in bed with such su­per com­pa­nies.

For­tune

Dr Ram­sa­roop stated that Guyana need not look fur­ther t han Venezuela where its ally and friend, the late Hugo Chavez, was forced to take af­fir­ma­tive ac­tion against that com­pany.

“A fi­nal thought on this sec­tor, Rex Tiller­son, Exxon’s boss up un­til months ago left to go take over as Sec­re­tary of State of the US and im­me­di­ately set about dis­man­tling the trans­parency laws for com­pa­nies such as Exxon op­er­at­ing in Guyana’s wa­ters.”

Ac­cord­ing to Dr Ram­sa­roop, how­ever, com­pa­nies such as Exxon can bring any deal and any amount of prom­ises to the Guyanese peo­ple, but at the end of the day it is what the Guyanese lead­ers agree to sign on to, it is what the Guyanese lead­ers agree to in bind­ing con­tracts.

Lam­bast­ing the lack of lead­er­ship on the part of the ad­min­is­tra­tion, Dr. Ram­sa­roop said, “Granger’s skills as sim­ply a his­to­rian ver­sus the Econ­o­mist of a Bhar­rat Jagdeo stands out like a sore thumb. There is no com­par­i­son. He seems lost.”

In spite of all of the ques­tions, Ram­sa­roop be­lieves that the Exxon part­ner­ship, if done right could be an as­set over the decades to come.

In­con­sis­tent

But even so, the Pres­i­dent is not re­ally ex­pected to be a master in the field of every arena he gov­erns, hence the em­ploy of com­pe­tent peo­ple in Gov­ern­ment agen­cies - per­haps the most crit­i­cal be­ing the Min­istry of Fi­nance and the in­con­sis­ten- cies of Win­ston Jor­dan are wor­ry­ing to say the least, ac­cord­ing to the ad­vi­sor.

“After 27 months at the helm of this im­por­tant Min­istry, which in­ci­den­tally will be in charge of the sov­er­eign wealth fund – Min­is­ter Jor­dan still can’t seem to get it right and in­stead blames the PPP at every turn, although he in­her­ited a grow­ing econ­omy with monies on hand.”

Dr Ram­sa­roop has since opined that the fu­ture of this na­tion is too im­por­tant to be left in the hands of in­com­pe­tence.

“The pre­vi­ous ad­min­is­tra­tion worked for many l ong years to t ake t he coun­try to a place where it was el­e­vated from that of a Heav­ily In­debted Poor Coun­try to one where we en­joy a more mid­dle class sta­tus.”

As such, he opines that with oil on the hori­zon, the stakes are even higher and that Guyanese need to take stock of them­selves and their coun­try and de­cide on its fu­ture.

He is of the opin­ion that the year 2020 marks another turn­ing point in the his­tory of this coun­try, with the start of the pro­duc­tion of oil and with pos­si­bly its most im­por­tant Gen­eral Elec­tions in his­tory.

The na­tion, he said, was sold a pipe dream in 2015 and de­spite the warn­ings by the lead­er­ship of the PPP, there was a vote for a change.

The coali­tion gov­ern­ment was de­clared the win­ners, al­beit by a slim mar­gin and this time around there is a track record to judge both sides of the coins, he noted.

“Proven lead­er­ship and growth un­der a PPP Gov­ern­ment or in­ces­sant crony­ism, col­lu­sion, dis­crim­i­na­tion and a lack of ba­sic lead­er­ship un­der a PNC led regime.

“We have an ad­min­is­tra­tion bring­ing laws into place that lack com­mon de­cency and in fact col­lides with the con­sti­tu­tion.

We have a peo­ple cry­ing out for a liv­ing wage, unions that are largely ig­nored in their plea for col­lec­tive bar­gain­ing and a bloated Gov­ern­ment with min­is­ters be­ing shifted around every few months even as they get to keep their su­per salaries.”

Ac­cord­ing to Dr Ram­sa­roop, it is time for change in­deed, but this is not the change any Guyanese bar­gained for, in­clud­ing sup­port­ers of the cur­rent ad­min­is­tra­tion – just ask the Amerindi­ans.

He has since con­cluded that a Pres­i­dent without a vi­sion, just liv­ing in a nice house with his only ac­com­plish­ment be­ing the fix­ing up his house and putting so­lar panels is not what any cit­i­zen ex­pects of their pres­i­dent.

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