Vice President, Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo has expressed grave disappointment over the Ministry of Natural Resources decision to engage the ExxonMobil company on audit matters after the Guyana Revenue Authority,(GRA) had already audited the company and presented its findings.
The GRA had flagged US$214 million in questionable expenses incurred by ExxonMobil for its exploration in the Stabroek block.
But the Ministry of Natural Resources, Petroleum Unit, subsequently broke that cost down to US$3 million, but Mr. Jagdeo said that should have never happened.
“The Ministry directly engaged in a discussion with ExxonMobil on the US$214M after the GRA had said that was the end of the matter. So, as far as I am concerned, I made it clear to them that I am accepting the GRA’s position, because they (the Ministry) engaged Exxon after the GRA had closed the audit and that should not have happened,” the Vice President said.
Mr. Jagdeo said he was advised by the Ministry of Natural Resources, that it did not engage ExxonMobil in detail, but that the oil company only sent over some proposals. But Mr. Jagdeo said that should not have happened in the first place.
“So my position still stands, and I will go with the figure of what the GRA have, I said to Statia (GRA Commissioner General), you will deal with it directly, not the Ministry any longer, I am very very disappointed because that was a Ministry position when all along we said we must be guided by the technical people,” the Vice President said.
Following the Vice President’s statements, the Ministry of Natural sought to cover its tracks by issuing a statement of its own, explaining that it has accepted the position by the Vice President that the GRA is the competent authority to lead all audit expenses incurred by ExxonMobil.
The Statement quoted the Minister of Natural Resources Vickram Bharrat as saying that he stands by the disputed costs flagged by IHS Markit in its audit of ExxonMobil’s US$1.7B in expenses incurred for the period 1999 to 2017.