MoUs should be shared with public – former Minister

first_imgAmid some public outcry and concerns raised to have Memorandums of Understanding (MoU) signed between the Government of Guyana and other countries released to the general public, former Foreign Trade Minister, Dr Henry Jeffrey feels the Government should do so.Dr Jeffrey feels there is nothing secretive in MoUs that cannot be shared, especially since it is not a legally binding document and does not tie one Government to the other to deliver on any specific area, unless a contract is signed.“On the other hand, you could have MoUs that are narrow and those that are broad to deal with a general context of Guyana and to deal with any specific issue. But why shouldn’t they be made public? I don’t see them as any kind of documentation that could not be,” he stated during an interview with <<<>>>> on Wednesday.The former Minister advised that Government consult with stakeholders to determine whether or not there is anything that they may want to include. He said this may help in a large way to put some of the concerns they may have, to rest. Most importantly though, he said it allows for information sharing between Government and the citizenry.Only recently, Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo had called for Government to release the oil MoU signed between Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago.Concerns in this regard were also raised by the local Private Sector, particularly the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) where it said individuals and business people here are fearful that the MoUs will give foreigners a greater advantage.In fact, before the signing of the energy-related MoU with neighbouring Trinidad and Tobago (T&T), President of GCCI, Deodat Indar called for Government to show constraint where the oil industry is concerned and also made the call for the signing to be placed on hold, while assessing the impact such a move would have on local businesses.The GCCI head claimed Guyanese businesses are already being sidestepped, and instead contracts have been awarded to foreign-based companies to benefit from the local oil sector. The Chamber was mainly concerned with the Guyana Government selling out opportunities to foreigners as opposed to locals.Jeffrey said, “Let’s understand this clearly. Every country has to look after its interest but a MoU can’t sell you out, it’s for the Government of Guyana to make it public and involve people in it construction so that they may bring different points of view on the issues. But I don’t believe a MoU will sell anybody out. I think the issue lies in the fact that Guyanese were not treated well by Guyana.”In July, Guyana and China signed a MoU on cooperation within the framework of Beijing’s global “Belt and Road Initiative,” which represents yet another milestone in Guyana-China relations. The accord is expected to enhance cooperation in five main areas; namely policy coordination, facilities connectivity, trade and investment, financial integration, and people-to-people interaction. Public infrastructure is also expected to be a major focus under this agreement.At the completion of the signing, there were also calls for that MoU to be released. While the Government released the MoU signed with T&T, Minister of State Joseph Harmon said the issue will be first discussed at Cabinet before a decision is made.And in an effort to boost local capacity in the oil and gas sector, the Governments of Guyana and Canada’s Newfoundland will also sign a MoU this month.Canadian High Commissioner to Guyana, Lillian Chatterjee says the Natural Resources Minister from the Canadian Province of Newfoundland will be visiting Guyana tomorrow to ink the agreement.The Canadian envoy said the MoU will last for three years and will allow Guyana the opportunity of learning how Newfoundland managed to utilise that sector to improve its economy.Canada has the third largest oil reserves, is the fifth largest oil producer and fourth largest oil exporter in the world.last_img read more