(Stabroek News, 6.Sep.2018) — Dear Editor: How could we have billions of barrels of oil in 2018 and not be able to pay our teachers a living wage? The value of having the requisite quality of well-paid and motivated teachers of the highest calibre will reverberate across this nation in positive ways that will lift Guyana out of its morass.
Let us for this occasion set aside the multiple ways that funds can be sourced from our treasury to give at least a 25% increase to our teachers for 2018 and a 5% increase for each of 2019 and 2020. Instead, let us source the needed funds from our oil resources now.
What is more important to the development of a nation than the education of our youths? We hear so much of the importance of Science, Technology, Engineering, Math, English and Artisan skills, yet we show great trepidation in taking the necessary actions to ensure that we empower our teachers with the benefits to get the job done and stem the increasing threat of violence, robbery, idleness, underdevelopment of our youth, marginalization of our youth, alarming levels of migration, poor communication skills, a subservient culture, inferiority complex, and contract subjugation.
The leveraging of our oil resources for the benefit of our teachers and support of the sugar industry, among others; will have an immediate and positive impact on the economic welfare of Guyana. What folly it is to create a wealth fund, while our teachers and sugar workers are thrown under the truck.
We often hear of providing for future generations. I beg to differ somewhat and state emphatically that the most important generations are those among us now. And the empowerment of current generations will benefit current and future generations.
Too often our political leaders are servile, complicit, compromised, weak-kneed and spineless to the global powers that we cannot engage with Exxon’s Esso, Hess, and Nexen – mano a mano and negotiate a contract that 1) Pays a realistic signing bonus exceeding US$500 Million, 2) Increases the royalty to at least 10%, and 3) Have the partners of the Government of Guyana that signed on to the 2016 Production Sharing Agreement, disgorge themselves of the foul pre-contract costs that are doubling every two years from US$460 Million at the end of 2015 to over US$900 Million in 2018.
How many billions of barrels of oil must be found before we find ways to monetize the oil discoveries to fund our teachers and sugar industry now?
In the midst of the Exxon’s Esso oilgreeopoly we have the aptly named “Wood” McKenzie agent releasing a report dated August 31, 2018 – noting that Guyana’s Liza complex located in the Stabroek block, accounts for 15% of all conventional crude oil found globally since 2015. “Wood” clusters over several key data points, such as amount of oil in the Liza complex, acreage of the Liza complex, location of the other 85% of crude oil found since 2015, and unsurprisingly, the amount of royalty for the owner of the oil: Guyana.
Wood McKenzie then gloats over the triple play for Esso, Hess, and Nexen, comprising of attractive fiscal terms, scale of resource, and oil reservoir quality.
How foolish it is that we have billions of barrels of oil in our backyard and we can’t pay respectable salaries for our teachers and support our sugar industry. Are our negotiating skills so hollow and inept that we can’t use monetary value leverage, with the billions of barrels of oil, to benefit Guyanese in need now; starting with our teachers, sugar workers and nurses.
More probably the failure to leverage the billions of barrels of oil has more to do with the despicable 2016 oil contract that Guyana signed away with Exxon’s Esso and its partners for a measly 2% and other superficial benefits.
With 123 Billion acres of land and water on earth – 29% land and 71% water; our beloved Guyana has been blessed by nature, providence and divinity to have Guyana’s Stabroek Block, comprising 0.005% of the earth surface and containing billions of barrels of oil offshore. Let us have the courage to demand that the resources in our 0.005% offshore, secures a contract that is best for Guyana’s ascendancy and provides a livelihood commensurate with our oil wealth: for our teachers, sugar workers, nurses, pensioners, youths and provide financial support for our industries and build infrastructure that will propel us to developed country status.