Eyewitness: To be, or not to be…

The content originally appeared on: INews Guyana

…or is it to audit?

There was never any question that the monies Exxon and its partners – Hess and CNOOC – have claimed to’ve spent on the development of the Stabroek Block had to be audited. Were we going to depend on the Communist Chinese-owned CNOOC to look after our interest in a show of Third World solidarity against the western capitalist “running-dog” companies? (That’s how China described anything American back in 1972, when Guyana went out on a limb and recognised them as the “real” China!) Now they can teach America a thing or a hundred about exploitative capitalism!

So, your Eyewitness didn’t pay much attention to all the sturm and drang about the VP saying that the time for the audit had elapsed. And this was because he said there wasn’t local auditing capacity responding to the Government’s advertisement for auditors.

He was so sanguine because he knew back in early 2018 – before first oil was drawn – the GRA had announced the formation of a Customs Petroleum Unit. It’s still on its website: “In fulfilling its legal mandate to optimise revenue collection and following recommendations of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in a Guyana Technical Assistance Customs Petroleum Report (September 2019), the GRA established the Customs Petroleum Unit and Petroleum Revenue Audit Unit (PetRAD)to focus on oil and gas audits and routine Customs functions relevant to the sector.

GRA Commissioner General Godfrey Statia elaborated further to the press: “(GRA) is preparing to audit ExxonMobil’s operations even as it prepares to staff a special Oil and Gas Unit with as much as 100 persons by 2020, when the country is expected to earn at least US$700 million annually from oil production.” More specifically, another report stated, “The second aspect of PetRAD’s mandate is the Execution of Cost Recovery Audits aimed at verifying the expenditure claims of contractors who have entered into PSAs with the Government of Guyana and ultimately the State’s share of Profit Petroleum.”

So, your Eyewitness – knowing of the efficiency of the GRA in doing the right thing when it comes to ensuring Guyana gets its fair share of what’s owned to it -figured that while the Government hadn’t done its independent audit of Exxon’s claimed expenses, the GRA would be ready with its numbers!!

But sadly, your Eyewitness found this report from earlier this year: “Currently the complement of the Petroleum Revenue Audit Department has expanded to 14 officers since its establishment, but 11 of the 14 officers directly involved in the execution of audits are officially assigned to the Tax Audit Division. The only assigned member of the Cost Recovery Audit Division is the Assistant Commissioner.”
Et tu, GRA?

…tribal

The race for the PNC Leader “wuk” has thrown up the perennial question in Guyanese politics: how does the leader solidify support of his ethnic base but still try to get some support from the other “five peoples”? When Burnham formed the PNC in late 1957, he was the darling of urban Africans because of the pride over his exploits at Queen’s College. He appealed to the rural Africans by bringing in Eusi Kwayana (then Sydney King) and the urban Mixed with the UDP of John Carter.

For the Indian support, he brought over Jainarine Singh and JB Latchmansingh from the BGEIA via the PPP. Jagan, of course, did the same thing with the rump PPP he was left with, consisting of mostly Indians and some loyalists from the other race groups. And they pretty much set the pattern of party mobilisation in Guyana for the next sixty years!! So, is anything gonna be different this go-around in the PNC?
Let’s see if each candidate has their Latchmansingh or Jainarine Singh!

…influenced by American culture

Social media is flooded with American celebrities; sports pages cover the NBA; the G/town in-crowd just had their Halloween parties. So, with Thanksgiving coming up in a week’s time, will Guyanese forget their angst and celebrate Thanksgiving?