Georgetown, Guyana – (February 28, 2018) The Ministry of the Presidency condemns as false the claim that President David Granger has ‘stripped’ Minister of Natural Resources, Mr. Raphael Trotman of responsibility for oil, which was carried in the Tuesday, February 27, 2018 edition of the online publication, Citizens Report, headlined “Granger strips Trotman of oil responsibilities” and the Wednesday, February 28, 2018 edition of the Guyana Times, headlined “ExxonMobil discovers more oil offshore Guyana …Trotman to be stripped of responsibility for oil”.

Despite the fact that Minister Trotman made public yesterday that it was, in fact, he who had made the proposal to the Cabinet for the Department of Energy to be set up and managed under the Ministry of the Presidency, the articles, it appears, were deliberately crafted to mislead the public. In a Ministry of the Presidency release yesterday, it was disclosed that the concept note submitted to the Cabinet by Minister Trotman outlined the need for the new Department and the role it would take on with regard to oil management.

It stated that “given the evolving macro-economic and national security considerations, and the transformative nature of the imminent production of petroleum,” it is his view that several matters must be taken into consideration. Key among those was the proposal that “all policy matters, including, but not limited to, the negotiating and entering into contracts, and issuing of licences for exploration and production, be transferred/re-assigned to the Ministry of the Presidency and placed within a Department of Energy and Development.”

Citizens Report, in its article states that “Government has decided to strip Natural Resources Minister, Raphael Trotman of all responsibilities over the country’s lucrative oil and gas industry…” while the Guyana Times reported that “…This announcement was made during Cabinet’s discussions on Tuesday when it was also disclosed that Government planned to strip away the responsibility for the oil sector from Natural Resources Minister Raphael Trotman.”

However, Minister Trotman’s proposal was accepted by the Cabinet yesterday after detailed discussions on its contents. The Natural Resources Minister, in his statement yesterday, said, “The second announcement is that last year, I did propose to His Excellency, the President that we begin considering the establishment of the Department of Energy; a Department, which will be focused only on the development of the petroleum sector. Today we held and had a very lively discussion on the proposal, which I presented and it has been determined and decided that we will have the Department of Energy established and this will be coming within the next few months. It will be housed at the Ministry of the Presidency and so the President and the Cabinet has mandated that I will head the Task Force, which would comprise the quintet of Ministers, that would be Ministers of Finance, State, Public Infrastructure, Business and myself and we will include the other Ministers of Public Security, Public Telecommunications and hopefully the Ministers of Education and Social Protection. So this Task Force will be meeting and will make a proposal to Cabinet as to how the Department of Energy will be comprised, staffed and what its mandate will be. Eventually the expectation is that the Ministry of Natural Resources will hand over responsibility of the function of petroleum to this new Department and we will see a more direct and focused mandate from this Department of Energy and we will of course, as a Cabinet be supporting the Department.”

The Natural Resources Minister has provided sterling leadership in the development of the sector and it is under his stewardship that significant progress has been made in capacity building and preparations for ‘first oil’. Some notable achievements include the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Petroleum Institute of Mexico for training and capacity building, which has seen the commencement of training for Guyanese, the drafting of the Petroleum Commission Bill, Sovereign Wealth Fund Bill and Health, Safety and Environment Regulations and the revision of the Petroleum (Exploration and Production) Act with the help of the Commonwealth Secretariat.

Additionally, in keeping with Government’s intention to ensure Guyanese’ involvement in the Petroleum industry, an internationally recognised consultant has been retained to draft a local content policy for Government’s approval and this process is in its final stages while the capacity of the Civil Defence Commission (CDC) is being boosted to respond to any incidence of oil spill or related disasters.

The Ministry of Natural Resources was also instrumental in Guyana’s acceptance as the 53rd member of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) in September 2017, one of the fastest acceptance periods for any member state while the Natural Resources Fund Bill is with the Ministry of Finance and a settled draft is expected to be presented in the first quarter of 2018.

The two articles are, therefore, are at odds with the utterances of Minister Trotman and the facts of the matter and can be deemed malicious and dishonest. They come just two days after Minister Trotman, during an interview with the Ministry of the Presidency, said that it appears that several persons and media houses are bent on fulfilling a mandate, which targets the Government, the oil and gas sector and the company, which is operating here.

“A disservice is being done to the people of Guyana. It is a strange… you know I don’t know if there is a misquote or misprint so I’d rather not focus on the individual concerns but it is obvious that some media houses have an agenda. You know for a country that has less than a million people, we should be building a nation; not destroying and destroying the hopes and aspirations of a people,” he said.

While the Government of Guyana promotes and stands solidly behind press freedom, the Ministry of the Presidency calls on the Guyana Times, Citizens Report and all media houses to pay attention to the ethics and responsibilities that ought to be observed in the profession of Journalism. The Media must take its responsibility to provide accurate information to the members of the public seriously.

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