The Opposition APNU and AFC are demanding that the Oil and Gas Government Portfolio be immediately taken away from Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo after the Petroleum Unit at the Natural Resources Ministry slashed the US$214M in questionable expenses incurred by ExxonMobil for its exploration of the Stabroek Block, to US$3M.
An international audit company and the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) both flagged the US$214M on the basis that it lacked key documents to support the claims, but the Petroleum Unit subsequently broke that cost down to US$3M.
That meant that only US$3M was being disputed.
Last week, while expressing disappointment in the actions of the Natural Resources Ministry, Vice President Jagdeo said the Natural Resources Ministry had no business engaging Exxon on the matter, when GRA had already submitted its report.
The APNU said the fiasco has exposed the “ineptitude” of both the Vice President, and the Minister of Natural Resources, Vickram Bharrat.
“Any responsible person with a modicum of common sense would, on receipt of a report on the slashing of ExxonMobil Guyana Limited’s questionable expenses from US$214M to US$3M, seek further information or clarification on the matter. But not VP Bharrat Jagdeo. He informed the nation that he accepted the report at face value and had no concerns and sought no explanations. This is negligence and malfeasance of the highest order,” APNU said.
The party said such negligence and malfeasance could lead to the loss of billions of dollars of public funds.
“The nation has travelled this road before with VP Jagdeo. The Skeldon Sugar factory modernization project, the Fibre Optics Cable project, and Su-gate (to name a few) have starkly exposed his incapabilities. He is out of his depth. The nation distrusts him,” APNU said.
Should the disputed amount be removed from the cost bank, it would have to be redirected to profit oil, and therefore be split 50/50 between the Government and the oil giant.
Leader of the Alliance For Change (AFC), Khemraj Ramjattan said to deny Guyanese its fair share of the revenues would be criminal.
“To deny ourselves that is shameless. As a matter of fact, it got to be a rogue government that is doing that. Because US$107M could go a far way in helping the sugar workers, in helping public servants with increases,” MP Ramjattan told reporters during a press conference last Friday.
Joining the APNU in its demands, the AFC Leader said the Vice President should be sent packing.
“It is sad, very, very sad and we are denying ourselves a lot of money, it is almost criminal,” he added.
The Cost Recovery Report covers Pre-Contract, Exploration and Developments Costs for the period 1999 to 2017 by ExxonMobil’s subsidiary. The company has submitted a claim of US$1.67B.