So much has happened during the past week on the contagion of COVID 19. Among the most sensational are the slowing down of the spread in Northern Italy; the surge in the USA, especially in New York; the record US$ 2Trillion stimulus package in USA; and the decision to postpone the 2020 Tokyo Olympics to 2021. There are however signs of health emergencies in other areas of the world like in South Africa for example. In other smaller countries like those in the Caribbean, there are gradual increases in numbers especially the Dominican Republic, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago. What has emerged as a vital outcome is that the coronavirus is not only a health crisis of immense proportions, but also requires an imminent restructuring of the global economic order.
The Need for a Global Humanitarian Plan
Mr. Antonio Guterres, UN Secretary General in a statement issued on March 25 captures the enormity of the challenges. “COVID is menacing the whole of humanity and so the whole humanity must fight back. Individual country responses are not going to be enough. Wealthy countries with strong health systems are buckling under the pressure. Now, the virus is arriving in countries already in the midst of humanitarian crises caused by conflicts, natural disasters and climate change.” He called for a Global Humanitarian Response Plan for COVID 19.
Implicit in the UN Secretary General (UN SG)’s plea is that traditional metrics and assumptions are being rendered irrelevant. More starkly Christine Amanpour, Chief International Anchor for CNN, in the interview with the UN SG (BBC March 25), pronounced : “it’s our turn to answer a question that many of us once asked of our grandparents: What did you do during the war?”
Wall Street Journal editorial “Rethinking the Coronavirus Shutdown” (March 19) proclaimed that no country can safe guard public health for long at the cost of its economic health.“ if government shut down continues ... the human cost of job losses and bankruptcies will exceed what most imagine". What it advises for USA applies elsewhere: “unless federal and state officials start adjusting their antivirus strategy now to avoid an economic recession, [the outcome] will dwarf the harm from 2008-2009". In other words, the dilemma we may soon face is the terrible choice to either severely damage our livelihoods through extended lockdowns, or to sacrifice the lives of thousands, if not millions, to a fast-spreading virus. It is with this realization that the call for a global humanitarian response to militate against inequalities, is a feasible solution.
The Next Normal or What Next
Nowhere else have I seen more viable solutions than in an article by Mc Kinsey Analysis in collaboration with Oxford University (March 25) which poses 5 scenarios for the new normal that will emerge in the post-viral era: the “next normal.”
It is increasingly clear that this new Decade will be defined by an unprecedented new reality. Even before a solution to COVID 19 is conceivable, we are witnessing the beginning of discussion and debate about what the next normal could entail and how sharply its contours will diverge from those that previously shaped our lives. The question to be answered urgently is, how to begin navigating to what’s next ?
As we write, governments around the world are scrambling to deal with the spread of the coronavirus, which has sickened at least 176,500 people worldwide and contributed to more than 7,350 deaths. These figures are likely to increase exponentially without the enforcement of stringent and effective measures. Canada shut its borders to anyone who is not a citizen or permanent resident, while the European Union ordered a halt to all non-essential travel. The USA has declared a national emergency, restricted airline flights into the country, ordered restaurants, schools and businesses except grocery stores, pharmacies and banks closed and recommended limiting social gatherings to 10. In France, President Emmanuel Macron banned all social and family gatherings, placing the country in an unprecedented lockdown. A number of African countries —Kenya , Senegal , Nigeria, Benin, and Ethiopia have declared cases while others like Zimbabwe, Chad, Tanzania, Somalia , Ghana, Ivory Coast have instituted restrictions. South Africa has declared a state of disaster and so has The Philippines. These actions together with those in China, Italy, and Spain among others provide lessons learned and portray examples of epic struggles against an invisible enemy. All these jurisdictions have imposed restrictions of between 2-8 weeks duration. Cancellation of sports activities over the world, now threatens next Summer’s Tokyo Olympics.
COVID -19 and the Distinction between Global effects and Globalization
Prof Ian Goldin, at Oxford Centre of Globalization, likened the COVID-19 pandemic to a virulent form of globalization, even more so than the 2008 financial crisis that slowed down the world economy. In 2008, the world appeared much more unified, hence global models for stimulus packages were variably applied to reduce respective economies from total collapse. Yet it magnified the inequality among and within countries. While the financial crisis may have been due to globalization, the current pandemic is a global one. Deregulation was the source of the former crisis, mainly instigated in the developed countries, but with severe impact on developing countries, with least access to effective social safety nets. The slow down on the world economy in 2008 mostly affected the vulnerable and exacerbated inequality within and among countries. Persistent inequalities were fanned by the arteries of globalization. The projected effects of the coronavirus is much more devastating with domino effects across the globe.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has deemed COVID 19 a Pandemic. Its virulence as illustrated by the number of deaths and impending social and economic consequences, is compounded by the fact that it is both a public health and an economic emergency. It exposes the need for strengthening public health, better science, national unity, regional coordination, international solidarity and social support. These elements are required to ensure economic resilience during and after the passing of the Pandemic, whose timeline remains unpredictable.
Already England has announced a COVID Bill guaranteeing £300Bn of government assistance or 15% of GDP, to provide liquidity through support packages, business interruptions loan schemes and loan guarantees, especially for small businesses and the service sector including the airlines. It also includes mortgage holidays, employment support and cash grants to support the vulnerable groups. The USA has advocated US $850bn stimulus package to give relief to small businesses and affected industries like airlines and to support those in need.
"This enemy can be Deadly but not Unbeatable"
Prevalence of the infection is different in different states. The responses are in turn based on these differences. Enforcement of China’s draconian measures to quarantine whole cities for example, has resulted in a massive slowing down of the Coronavirus. Scientists around the world are proclaiming that from an epidemiological perspective, the earlier the action taken, the better the results. But the race to contain the virus is constrained by lack of a vaccine. While the Center for Disease Control (CDC) has initiated trials this week, indications are that it will take at least a year to produce an immunological safe vaccine. Hence preventing the spread will be dependent on information based on the science and building the bonds of trust to manage the risks and achieve mitigation and containment. There is need for coherent policies as a Nudge to slow the trajectory of the virus.
Acknowledging Cuba's Effort and the role of CARPHA
What has emerged is an illustration of the ill effects to human development caused by the ideological divide. According to reports, Cuba produces a drug known as Interferon Alpha 2B, that could save thousands of lives in the COVID-19 pandemic. The drug has been produced in China since January 25 and, according to data from China, has managed to effectively cure more than 1,500 patients from the coronavirus. It is one of 30 drugs chosen by the Chinese National Health Commission to combat the respiratory disease and is currently been prescribed in Italy. The drug was first developed in 1986 by a team of researchers from the Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (CIGB) and has benefited thousands of Cuban patients since its introduction into the national health system. It has been used as a treatment for HIV-AIDS, Hepatitis B and C, Herpes zoster or Shingles, Dengue and different types of cancers. The medication is said to increase the natural production of interferon in the human body and strengthens the immune system of patients, thus, is effective in treating the coronavirus disease. https://www.telesurenglish.net/news/Cubas-Interferon-Alpha-2B-Successful-in-Treating-COVID-19-20200317-0015.html
Small island states in the Caribbean, most of which depend on tourism and other service industries, have commenced putting in place programs to prevent the spread of the virus. Chief among these are strengthening health systems, enacting policies based on scientific information, widespread public education and establishing mechanisms for enforcement. They are also considering sourcing supplies of Interferon Alpha 2B from Cuba as part of an overall strategy.
A regional approach is essential for identifying resources, sharing expertise, resisting the temptation for bilateral negotiations that distort regional efforts. It is to the benefit of CARICOM, that the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) has become a lead institution in the implementation of the Caribbean Cooperation in Health. in collaboration with the Pan American Health Agency(PAHO). CARPHA has the capability to conduct the necessary tests on behalf of the entre Caribbean but in particular for those smaller islands without local laboratories and test kits. It therefore must be one of the priority institutions in which to invest as a cost effective measure for the Caribbean.
In fighting the contagion of COVID -19, the world is engaged in a war of a different kind. It is most likely to revolutionize the way we live, work and play. It may well be referred to as 'social distance-together'
2020 World Women’s Day Prompts Reflections and Recollections on Women and Development in the CaribbeanRead Now
I am Generation Equality: Realizing Women's Rights. This is the theme of International Women’s Day (March 8), 2020. It is a significant reminder that an equal world is an enabled world. It is one to which we must strive. Individuals and leaders of institutions around the globe have issued statements to this effect. Many countries and regions have identified the champions that have brought the struggles for women's rights and gender equity to the forefront of the global agenda. They ensured inclusion of measurable targets in the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. GOFAD, reaching into its library, found an amazing contribution to this global movement emanating in the Caribbean that is worthy of highlighting. This Caribbean movement is portrayed in an informative book, The UWI Gender Journey: Recollections and Reflections coedited by three of the Caribbean's foremost scholars, Professors Jocelyn Massiah, Elsa Leo Rhynie and Barbara Bailey. It is a must read for scholars, students, advocates and all those interested in issues of social justice, equality and inclusion. .
The focus of this book is on the evolution and growth of gender studies at the University of the West Indies. It illustrates how the leaders of this enterprise forged ahead to open new areas of academic investigations; how they impressively disseminated results of their studies; and how these results laid the basis for formidable policies, advocacy and actions at community, national, regional and international levels. The three editors are of course among the original pioneers of this movement which began as a modest venture under the banner Woman and Development (WAND). But others include Peggy Antrobus, Dame Neita Barrow, Lucille Mair, Kathleen Drayton, Magna Pollard, Rhoda Reddock, Eudine Barriteau, Patricia Mohamed, Verene Sheppard and Lieth Dunn. Together and at different times, they and many others referenced in the book contributed to institutionalizing an internationally reputable Institute of Gender Studies with focal points at all three campuses (in Jamaica, Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago) of the University of the West Indies (UWI). As Sir Hilary Beckles, UWI’s Vice Chancellor so aptly describes in his testimonial, the Institute of Gender Studies which emerged out of WAND has blossomed into “a fastidious custodian of the commitment to gender liberalization, intellectual engagement --- and effective leadership in the interactive fields of teaching, research, policy formulation and institutional refashioning”
In setting the scene, Joycelin Massiah connected the mission of Women and Development with a colonial past and a developmental future. It referred to the identification of discrimination of women in the Caribbean by the Moyne Commission in 1946, the blue print for women’s rights established in the UN Declaration on Human Rights, 1948, and the stimuli of the first World Conference on Women in Mexico City, 1975. They all created a firm basis on which to move to the next level of women’s development. This dynamic triggered the establishment of the Caribbean Women’s Association (CARIWA) and the inauguration of the Woman and Development (WAND) Unit within UWI in 1978. They were, however, just “the first tentative steps toward the introduction of women and development studies into the regional academy.“
Among the highlights of this book that readers will find enlightening are:
The book goes on to illustrate how the period of Consolidation 1996-2010, following the landmark Beijing Platform for Action in 1995, witnessed the roll out of graduate programmes, accelerated capacity building in research, the establishment of a robust data base to sustain analysis and policy making, the emergence of new programme areas such as gender and sexuality, construction of masculinities, the making of feminisms, and the blossoming of outreach activities within and beyond the academy. Such outreaches include national-level initiatives on gender policies, gender awareness and training women in leadership. In addition, the visibility of WAND soared through the increasing number of its leadership serving in regional and international bodies. Joycelin Massiah assumed the position as Caribbean Regional Director of United Nations Development Fund for Women, (now UN Women). Eudine Barriteau, became Prinicpal , UWI Cave; Elsie Leo Rynie, Deputy Principal UWI Mona; and Rodda Reddock, Deputy Principal, UWI St Augustine. Others were engaged in leadership roles in the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination (CEDAW) and Development Alternatives with Women in the New Era (DAWN]. Verne Shephard emerged as a highly respected spokesperson on reparations and gender equity at the UN and other international theatres. Barbara Bailey became a foremost advisor to the Caribbean Community on Gender and Education. Rosina Wiltshire served as Gender Justice Advocate to CARICOM. Yet there are so many others who gained professorships and have taken primary roles within the public and private sectors and in NGOs both nationally and regionally.
This book covers a journey of approximately 30 years. It is based on archival material and sturdy analysis. Reflections, recollections and spontaneous testimonials of the major players over the years formed an innovative methodology. It is a holistic assessment of the origins, evolution, challenges and triumphs of woman and development in the Caribbean.
In reflecting on the future, it is quite clear that the pioneers of the Caribbean women and development programme marshalled the intellectual fabric, ushered in an era that has placed women and gender as cross cutting elements of academic significance, and have given substance to the claims of ordinary women for greater attention to the social and economic challenges they face. It is to their credit that increasingly, policy, advocacy and militancy are backed by evidence; that there is a seismic shift in the understanding of women in the workplace, in entrepreneurial ventures, in politics , in the law and, in particular, in struggles to overcome the discrimination and disadvantages they encounter in the value chain, resistant to change. Increasingly this includes attention to issues such as sexual harrasment and violence against women and girls.
Let us therefore take the opportunity of 2020 World Women's Day to hail the contribution and inspiration of these Caribbean Champions that set the stage for Generation Equality- Realizing Women's Rights.
As we write this blog, the official results the 2020 Guyana general elections are still pending. All Observer Missions offered commendations to the Guyana Electoral Commission (GECOM) for the scrupulous manner in which it handled the process and to the people of Guyana for their participation in a peaceful democratic process. This Election has attracted attention worldwide and especially in this age of active social media has stimulated much discussion among the Guyanese people at home and abroad. It is the view of GOFAD that whatever the outcome, which ever group emerges as the Government, there will be a need to pay great attention to equality and inclusion. This blog draws of some eclectic remarks made at the University of Guyana’s Pre Conference on the Diaspora (February 28,2020). It was intended to launch an International Diaspora Engagement in late May, 2020 on the theme, "investing in Guyana's emerging business, indigenous women and youth leaders". It coincides with the celebration of its 54th anniversary of Guyana's Independence and provides an opportunity to examine the reality of the Diaspora in Guyana’s development.
The Diaspora at its Core
The word Diaspora comes from the Greek verb 'to sow' and by extension to disperse. More contemporary references illustrate examples of recent initiatives by governments around the world to reach out to “their” diasporas. The primary aims are to include those who have migrated in the national outreach or embrace; to establish new networks of commerce and culture; to tap into the enormous financial, technical and political resources that they can contribute to the national development; and in most cases, fly the national flag and achievements abroad. In this sense we can refer to the UG Diaspora over the past 57 years of its existence, as embracing those graduates and friends in and outside Guyana , amounting to over 40,000. The UG alumni, in particular, must have a vested interest in sustaining the credibility of their certification and therefore must be encouraged to contribute tangibly to this end. And I am glad to note that the University of Guyana’s Division of Philanthropy Alumni and Civic Engagement (PACE) has been at the forefront of coordinating and accelerating alumni affiliates in the England, Canada, and the USA. But the broader catchment of the Guyanese Diaspora that is the focus, is estimated to be over 1.8 Million, double the size of the Guyana population.at home. These are sources of goodwill whose encouraged commitment to the country’s development can make a difference.
The historical molding of our Diaspora
Recall, that one reason for the proliferation of the Guyana/Caribbean Diaspora was decolonization. As countries gained their independent status, it became necessary to forge transnational bonds of solidarity among their scattered populations, globally. For Guyana as for the rest of the Caribbean, many of its citizens, for example, migrated to Britain and have stood astride the colonial experience that produced Windrush, or the stigma of ‘’shit hole” countries rained on us by the current President of the USA.
Especially as Guyana is on the cusp of a new and rapidly developing economy, its good prospects as part of a Pan Caribbean integration movement is attracting worldwide attention. What a time of elevated pride and promise to foster an environment for a dialogue focused on the inter connection with a Diaspora of Guyana in CARICOM. This is indeed a vibrant context for a Diaspora conference that could inspire internationally respected advocates of global solidarity, equity and social justice.
What has Migration got to do with It
In May 2017 I was privileged to witness a memorable exhibition at The Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute (CCCADI) in New York by 16 Guyanese artists living in the USA, including Stanley Greaves, former lecturer at UG. Under the theme, Liminal Space, the artists working in various medium illustrated vividly how decades of migration have defined Guyana’s space. The content of that masterful exhibition is relevant to this conversation. It pointed out the relationship between migration and the idea of the “liminal” — from the Latin, ‘limens’, which means “threshold,” a place of transition, waiting, and unknowing. Fully etched in my memory is how that exhibition of creative arts testifies ‘to what drives one from a homeland and simultaneously keeps one tethered to it’.
Nowhere is this better illustrated than in the massive scale of contemporary international migration estimated at 217 million which has led some commentators to proclaim the last decade as the ‘Age of Diaspora’. So much so, that the UN designated 18th of December as international Migrants Day is conflated with a new configuration of diaspora strands that have proliferated to an extraordinary extent.
The 2020 World Migration Report produced by the international Organization on Migration (IOM), provides concrete evidence showing how the application of the principles of humane and orderly migration benefits migrants and the societies from which they come and those in which they reside. For Guyana and the Caribbean this is a lived experience. The ‘barrels ‘and ‘remittances’ are only one side of the coin. The other more ‘heads up’ side, comprises the contribution of our teachers, nurses, doctors, artists and other distinguished professionals, many of whom were groomed at UG.
Our writers have provided the context
George Lamming, in his 1950’s book, In the Castle of my Skin vividly portrays the colonial entanglement that made for a complex relation between colony and metropole. It is a psychic entanglement that is often beyond the understanding of a third-generation of British citizens of West Indian ancestry. Their relation to England is experienced as a racial assault that allows little space for a dialogue that would humanize the conflicts arising from a perception of ‘the other's’ difference. In another book The Emigrants Lamming explores the alienation and displacement caused by colonialism. It is out of this displacement and alienation, that the late Edward Kamu Braithwaite in his magnificent trilogy, The Arrvants, helps us to understand the amazing reach of our plantation system and culture that enriched the civilizations of the metropole . This is not to mention our music, athletics and (used to be) cricket. But it also makes us aware of the strength of the case for reparation by The CARICOM Commission spearheaded by Sri Hilary Beckles, Chancellor of the University of the West Indies. These vestiges of slavery, colonization and imperialism that disadvantaged our Caribbean societies provide major items for the Diaspora engagement to address
The Diaspora in the future of our development
Our Guyanese or Caribbean Diaspora is connected to these experiences and streams of migration, that manifested themselves in both opportunities and exploitation . Therefore UG’s engagement of migrants and now the children and grandchildren of those who left to better their circumstances in the international communities, must be placed in this context. It is a context that must counter an unfortunate but emerging views of ‘Diaspora fools ‘ in reference to those perceived to have left their homeland in the bad times, now returning to exploit rather than to contribute’. More meaningfully, the context should be interpreted as an attempt to recognize the operational challenges of migration; advance the understanding of migration issues; and encourage social, cultural and economic integration of our migrants in the development of the country and the Region.
Guyana’s new opportunity with continued exploration and recently-started production and export of oil and gas must be seen as bringing a number of wonderful possibilities but also some risks. The dominant perspective in Guyana’s discourse with the Diaspora must be viewed as being one that calls for using its windfall gains to consolidate Guyana’s long-term development goals. The achievements are bountiful. They depend on ensuring good governance and management of all Guyana’s resources. It requires working to stave off the well-known perils of some oil economies. But most of all it means seeking to enhance local content and, equally important, tap the required expertise , investments and collaboration of the members of the Diaspora.
The reality of the Diaspora in Guyana’s development beckons. Let us grasp the opportunity of engagement.
Mr. Dereck Springer's tenure as Director of the Pan Caribbean Partnership against HIV (PANCAP) ends on February 28, while this blog is being distributed. This is a slightly modified tribute delivered at the 37th meeting of CARICOM's Council of Human and Social Development (COHSOD) in Washington DC on September 28, 2019 . I have been closely associated with PANCAP from its inception in 2001 and was Advisor to PANCAP during Dereck's tenure as Director. I feel obliged to share this tribute to a creative and outstanding leader.
When Dereck announced over one year ago that he would not renew his contract as Director of the Pan Caribbean Partnership against HIV AIDS (PANCAP) every level of the partnership persuaded him — indeed begged him — to reconsider . Some even engaged in soft diplomacy which went something like this “Dereck man! just give us one more year”. Faith leaders prayed that spiritual redemption will change his mind and the youth pleaded for his continued mentorship. Nothing worked. No power on earth or the Holy Spirit for that matter could change his mind. A Jamaican colleague in frustration confessed “Dat man Dereck, he like the rock of Gibraltar: ‘to raw-tin’- him stand firm”
But this should come as no surprise for those of us who came to know him professionally. The keywords from the many tributes attest to this:
These are not just platitudes nor lyrics They truly characterize Dereck as a man of the time, in the time and for the time
As a man of the time, he came to the leadership of PANCAP at a difficult period when sources of external funding for the AIDS response were drying up ; when making the case for the Caribbean deemed as middle and upper income countries could no longer easily yield concessional funding; when complacency for the AIDS response was increasing and political will declining in the face of so many competing demands; and when the PANCAP Coordinating Unit (PCU) Staff was being depleted as a result of these cumulative tendencies. Yet Dereck remained undaunted: ever seeking new ways to overcome the challenges and in the process, molding the PCU into one of the most efficient and effective units within CARICOM
He was man in the time. When faint hearts would have succumbed, He remained optimistic : reformulating the scope and substance of the partnership , repurposing its programmes and uplifting its morale toward greater inclusion. Among the innovations are webinars, knowledge for health , national and regional stakeholder consultations —all of which have contributed to collective leadership, a prerequisite for the sustainability of PANCAP after Dereck.
These together have also no doubt blunted the doom and gloom about the future of the partnership that prevailed when he assumed office
Dereck was a man of the time. Not only has he been aware of the need for PANCAP to change gear but also to find new expressions for galvanizing the various strands of the partnership weaving them into a cohesive web. Its inter interlocking creed was to become Justice for All for which he so passionately advocates. It is universal yet indigenous. It illustrates the essence of how with common cause AIDS can truly be ended.
Besides being of and in the time, Dereck is a man for the time. He came to the Directorship with training and experience in public health, counseling, social psychology, epidemiology and philanthropy. Small wonder he was able to establish the foundations for the changing times ahead: one in which PANCAP’s stakeholders —parliamentarians , faith leaders, civil society, youth advocates, key populations and donor partners ofttimes with varying methods could adhere and contribute to the core value and common goals and programmes so adequately outlined in the Caribbean Regional Strategic Framework (CRSF) 2019-2025 This is a portrayal of the true legacy of Dereck’s inspiring leadership.
When combined with his growing reputation in the international theaters, especially on the Board of the Global Fund, it is my hope that his resounding assets will be available to and utilized for the benefit of the regional and Global struggles to achieve the targets of SDG #3 Good health and well-being in this aspiration, ending AIDS is one component of the global integrated health agenda.
It has been my privilege to work with a colleague of Dereck’s ilk and to feel the vibrations of his sensibilities, sense of duty and concern for the vulnerable. Under his leadership we witnessed PANCAP’s maturity into the quintessential essence of functional cooperation. For these transcendent qualities of being in the time , of the time and for the time, Dereck has taken PANCAP to soaring heights of achievements, respectability and honour. For all these reasons we celebrate his contribution to the region. Those within and outside the Caribbean Community with whom he engaged over these nine years will no doubt join PANCAP in recording an ever inadequate appreciation to Dereck for his sterling service and also to his family for allowing us to consume so much of the time, talent and fortitude of this outstanding human being.
GOFAD out of an abundance of caution in interpreting the myriad of conflicting information, steered clear of the echo chamber of ‘self styled experts’ and ‘media huskers and hustlers’ that may be capitalizing on the political storm on the eve of the Guyana’s General Elections on March 2, 2020. It advocated that discussions on the way forward needs to place the objectives of the National Resource Fund (Sovereign Wealth Fund) Act in the broader context of Guyana's sustainable development. These include:
Interrelations of Government Take
Clive Thomas in an insightful article in the Guyana’s Sunday Stabroek News (February 16, 2019 p.13) referred to the debate on the Guyana 'Government’s Take' of the impending oil bonanza as disappointingly “more noise and nonsense". He points out that the arguments in the debate generally fail to recognize the technical component and the challenges of measuring ‘Government Take’ which is a price “determined by forces of demand and supply in an economic market worldwide.” He illustrates that the owners of the supply of petroleum acreage negotiate the fiscal terms and other conditions for granting permission to explore and that these fiscal terms and conditions include bonuses, rentals, royalties and production sharing agreements (PSAs). They also include investment incentives and the price the investor must pay to explore and develop the acreage.
Rystad Energy, an independent oil and gas consultancy service provides a comparison of total government take from several upstream projects in selected countries and shows that Guyana with 60% compares favourably with Brazil 63% and Suriname 65% and is higher than USA 57% and Israel 55%. But Thomas cautions that Guyana’s fiscal terms differ from those of other countries “irrespective of the competitiveness of these terms”. The significant lesson from Thomas’ analysis is that the fiscal terms are certain to be adjusted in time, since Guyana’s PSA is a dynamic document open to change and improvement.
Greater focus on the Context of the Negotiations
At the same time, a comment by Professor Havelock Brewster provides a sanguine interpretation of the context of Guyana’s negotiation with Exxon. He is of the view that the Guyana Government and its advisers had little or no access to insider information, nor the capacity to verify any of the crucial variables such as the amount of capital and start up cost; or the amount of output, operational cost, pricing and revenue. This is a true reflection of the adage ‘the devil is in the detail’. His view is that Guyana was treading in circumstances of ‘the unknown’. In this regard, the view from The Global Witness report that Guyana could have secured a much better percentage of “revenue”, more in line with that of other oil producing countries, needs further scrutiny. Brewster points out that consideration must be given to both the prevailing internal political issues, and the international issues. He concludes that this brings to the fore the nexus of concerns about Exxon negotiating strategy and leverage, the ongoing International Court case on the Venezuelan claim, Guaido’s close relationship with the US President, with strong support coming from both the Republican and Democratic Parties, emboldening Guaido ‘s claim that the oil belongs to Venezuela, and the effect of Russia’s and China’s backing of Maduro and the US stance on Venezuela vs Guyana. “All this must create considerable uncertainty, and political limits to driving too hard a bargain with Exxon. To put it simply, there must be, in such circumstances, a leaning towards locking in the deal, even at some cost, going for the bird in the hand rather the bird in the bush”. He goes further by indicating that the gamble could be obtaining the ideal or ending up with zero and states that “no other oil producing country, to my knowledge, has faced this kind of one-sided uncertainty in negotiating with Exxon”.
Charting the Way Forward
As Guyana moves forward with securing its best interest, it is estimated that it will realize US$165billion over the life of the present contract with Exxon. How it utilizes the oil bonanza to benefit the Guyanese people will be further explored. As a starter it will depend on the following:
These contending tendencies could have wider and long lasting implications. CARICOM member states may yet find themselves with a fragmented rather than a cohesive foreign policy. And this will not augur well, neither for Guyana nor CARICOM.
As Guyana continues to increase its oil lift at an estimate of one million barrels by the end March 2020, there is much debate on how Guyanese will benefit. The persistent questions being raised, include whether the negotiations with Exxon Mobil brokered a favorable deal for Guyana or if it squandered the patrimony of the Guyanese people to Exxon Mobil, Hess and the other international conglomerates involved in the exploration and eventual oil lift .
The current political climate in the lead up to the General elections on March 2 continues to fuel the debate with conflicting information and claims by the contending political parties. The main opposition groups are advocating what is best represented in an advertisement in the local newspapers that the government is culpable and incompetent for “selling property (oil) without knowing its value.” This view is complemented by a report, Signed Away issued by Global Witness, an International NGO, and published February 7. The Report concludes that by the terms of the negotiation with Exxon Mobil, Guyana stands to lose US$55 Billion over 40 years. In 2011, Global Witness exposed a US$ 1.1B bribe by Shell Limited with respect to Nigeria Oil exploration, implicating that country’s Minister of Natural Resources.
The Guyana Government on the other hand has contested this and other statements as false and misleading. It has launched a publication , GUYANA PUBIC SECTOR LOCAL CONTENT POLICY on February 10, 2020 by the Department of Energy in the office of the President. In essence, local content is recognized to be the sum of input of local goods and services including employment across the oil and gas value chain. It also establishes the benefits that are predicted to accrue for investments of the revenues from oil in education, health, infrastructure etc. It points to the fact that Guyanese suppliers have been sensitized to the available opportunities and that provision is made for Guyanese public awareness of the actual plans for the management of the resources from oil. Allied announcements of significance from the Department of Energy are that :
Subsequently, Exxon explained that royalty is based on participation at no cost to Guyana whereas working interest pays its share of costs to explore and develop the project. According to its statement, Exxon advanced all of Guyana’s share of the cost and Exxon would have borne the entire loss if they did not find oil: “from day 1 , Guyana receives 14.5% of the project cash flow. Then after Exxon recovers the cash it advanced to Guyana, Guyana’s cash flow leaps to 37% more for a total 52 % advantage. The opinions of Open Oil, Global Witness and the IMF are far less positive about the deal. These divergent perspectives require closer investigation, beyond the ability of GOFAD, under the present circumstances requiring the verification of conflicting information.
The National Resource Fund : Transparency and Accountability
However, there are important developments intended to enhance transparency and accountability. First, is the setting up of the Natural Resource Fund (NRF) commonly referred to as a Sovereign Wealth Fund. Second is the establishment of a Public Accountability and oversight Committee (POAC). According the Act, the POAC will comprise 22 members, independent of political affiliation and representing the community interest. It will be responsible for increasing public awareness through disseminating evidenced based information and active public engagement. The POAC will be charged with the responsibility of promoting short, medium and long term priorities for use of the resources from Oil, consistent with the Act establishing the National Resource Fund.
The establishment of the POAC is a recognition that in today’s world, for public policy to be effective, it can no longer be the preserve of state actors or limited to the notion of public-private partnership. Non-state actors – NGOs, civil society, corporations, think tanks, influential personalities, the media, faith-based organizations, youth etc. — play an increasingly influential role in the decision making including the conduct of diplomacy and international relations. It is therefore expedient that they be tapped as supportive advocates. In this regard, the University of Guyana Energy Think Tank (UGETT) is an important initiative to accelerate the working links between Civil Society and academia working in this cutting edge area, critical to Guyana’s sustainable development. UGETT has already been engaged in fostering an understanding of the issues related to the NRF and established in the NDF Act. See https://finance.gov.gy/publications/guyana-natural-resources-fund-bill-2018-2/
The NRF Act specifically refers to compliance and management of the fund with respect to good governance and international best practices, including the Santiago Principles. In this regard the Chilean Sovereign Wealth funds established since 2006 is a commitment transparency. It ensures access by the public to relevant activity through an exclusive website that publishes information on all the fund’s monthly, quarterly and annual reports; and the legislation pertaining to the funds at the recommendation of the Financial Committee in its annual reports. In Guyana’s Fund, the Bank of Guyana is responsible for the operational management of the fund which is authorized to expend one third on development programmes and an untouchable two-thirds to the NRF for the future. But, there are several outstanding elements of the Act still to be fulfilled, no doubt stymied by the pending elections on March 2. They include the actual appointment of members of the PAOC, Budget of the PAOC and renumeration of the members PAOC.
The POAC and Think Tanks such as UGETT therefore play a vital role and can together serve Guyana’s interests best, if, in addition, they focus their discussions on building capacity for monitoring and evaluation, highlight anti-corruption policies, promote lessons learned from the experiences of other oil and gas ventures especially in developed countries that help to avert looming outcomes such as the ‘Dutch Disease’
The Way Forward: Broader Strategic Issues of Sustainable Development
The discussion on the way forward needs to place the objectives of the NRF Act in the broader Guyana's sustainable development in the context of the Caribbean Community. These include:
[Today] we published a new book, “Unmaking the Presidency: Donald Trump’s War on the World’s Most Powerful Office.” It reflects nearly four years of thinking about the interaction of President Trump’s personality and the powers of the office he holds; thinking that has evolved as we have witnessed the ways in which the man and the office have coexisted and clashed. We think it is genuinely different from other works in the growing literature on President Trump and hope you will find it valuable.
The core argument we advance is that Trump—though not a political theorist by any means—is proposing a revision to a broadly shared understanding of the American presidency. This may seem to give too much credit to an administration that often appears to function more as an impulse control disorder than under any rational theory of governance. We argue, however, that behind all Trump’s violations of the norms of the presidency is an actual vision of the presidency—if only an inchoate vision that Trump himself might be unable to articulate. This vision, we argue, is radically different from the assumptions of the traditional presidency.
“Unmaking the Presidency” is an attempt to take this vision of the presidency seriously: to describe it in detail, to study how it manifests across a range of presidential powers, and ultimately to defend the traditional presidency from Trump’s proposed revision of the institution.
What is Trump’s vision? As we say in the book’s introduction: Most of all, Trump proposes a presidency that elevates the expressive and personal dimensions of the office over everything else. It is one in which the institutional office and the personality of its occupant are almost entirely merged—merged in their interests, in their impulses, in their finances, and in their public character. In elevating the expressive, vanity-plate dimensions of the office and making it a personal vehicle for the public self-expression of the officeholders, he proposes sublimating nearly all other traditional features of the presidency: its management functions; its expectation of good-faith execution of law; its expectation of ethical conduct, truthfulness, and service. This vision of the presidency thus unsurprisingly produces a genuinely novel set of deployments of the executive’s traditional powers, ones that are profoundly different from those of prior presidents.
One of the arguments we advance in “Unmaking of the Presidency” is that Trump’s abuse of his office is fundamentally different from traditional separation of powers fights over executive power, in which presidents have sought to aggrandize their office by pushing at the margins of its authorities. Trump’s abuses, as we try to show in the book, have not taken place at the edges of the president’s powers; they have almost uniformly occurred, rather, at the core of the president’s authorities. They have involved his powers to appoint and remove executive branch officials. They have involved his processless administration of the executive branch. They have involved his pardons, real and threatened. They have involved his supervision of law enforcement to reward his friends and punish his enemies. They have involved the impulsive and chaotic manner in which he conducts foreign policy. They have involved his pursuit of financial self-enrichment. They have involved his abusive speech. They have involved his lies.
Most fundamentally, they have involved what is perhaps the most novel proposition of the Trump’s presidency: that civic virtue does not matter. The traditional presidency places a high value on civic virtue. The effectiveness of the presidential oath of office depends on it pervasively. But Trump has operated his presidency without the slightest pretense of anything of the kind. He makes plain that it’s all about him, not about public service or about pursuit of the national good. This oathlessness, we argue, lies at the core of Trump’s vision, and it underlies many of the specific deployments of presidential power we discuss.
The book covers a lot of ground. It begins with Trump’s oath of office and then explores the disunity of the executive branch under his leadership, the total breakdown of executive branch decision-making processes, Trump’s highly innovative style of presidential speech, his inexhaustible fountain of lies and disinformation, his contempt for ethics regulations, his vision of justice and federal law enforcement, his approach to being investigated, his impulsive conduct of foreign affairs, and his use of the unreviewable powers of his office. The goal, along the way, is to describe how we came to form particular expectations of the presidency, so the book goes into a lot of history of the presidency—some of which, we hope, will be entertaining as well as interesting.
In the end, though, the book is a defense of the traditional presidency, which seems to us to need a defense right now.
Today, as we write these words, the Senate is beginning the impeachment trial of President Trump. One year from now, he will either be reinaugurated or replaced. That means we are in a year of decision: Is Trump’s vision of the presidency one the American public wants to ratify? Or is it a vision that requires repudiation?
Susan Hennessey is the Executive Editor of Lawfare and General Counsel of the Lawfare Institute. She is a Brookings Fellow in National Security Law. Prior to joining Brookings, Ms. Hennessey was an attorney in the Office of General Counsel of the National Security Agency. She is a graduate of Harvard Law School and the University of California, Los Angeles.
Benjamin Wittes is editor in chief of Lawfare and a Senior Fellow in Governance Studies at the Brookings Institution. He is the author of several book
This week's post is by Jorge Heine, research professor at the Pardee School of Global Studies at Boston University, a Wilson Center global fellow and a non-resident senior research fellow at the Center for China and Globalization in Beijing. Jorge is former Chile Ambassador to China This blog appeared in Global Times January 16 , 2020
The beginning of a new decade has a happy ring to it - a feeling of turning a page, of starting anew, of a fresh impetus. Yet, this year of the rat according to the Chinese calendar looks ominous, one in which the world will face many daunting challenges.
The gathering storm between the US and Iran brought to the fore by the killing of General Qasem Soleimani in Baghdad and the downing of a Ukrainian passenger plane over Iran with which the year began is, of course, the most obvious signal of simmering conflicts around the world.
How likely is it they will explode, drawing in many other players? Which are the flashpoints to watch? Is it true, as many say, that things will get worse before they get better? Here is my take on some key issues and how they will shape our increasingly endangered planet.
Global warming: Climate change is perhaps the defining issue of our time. We only have a small window of opportunity to do the needful to avoid reaching a 2-centigrade increase in temperatures that would be catastrophic. Yet, no substantial progress is taking place in reducing global carbon emissions. COP25, the big conference held on the subject in Madrid in December, was a fiasco. Some would say that the fires that engulf much of New South Wales and other states in Australia, burning eight million hectares and killing a billion animals, provide a frightening, hell-like preview of what we shall soon see elsewhere as a result of rising temperatures, widespread droughts and climate-change denialist governments.
The second cold war: Far from de-escalating, tensions between the United States and China, if anything, increased in 2019, and show few signs of abating in the new year. Yes, the first phase of a truce in the trade war between both countries is in the offing, and some details about what the second phase would entail are emerging. But tensions on the technology front have not diminished, and many seem happy to ratchet up, rather than down, the us-versus-them rhetoric that feeds on itself. In a US election year, this is unlikely to change. The relaunch of the Committee on the Present Danger, once focused on the Soviet Union, and now on China, is not encouraging.
An unraveling WTO: Much of the growth and prosperity we have seen in the course of the past three decades, which has led, among other things, to the achieving of the UN Millennium Development Goals, including the drastic, worldwide reduction of poverty, has been driven by high global trade volumes. This slowed down after the 2008-09 financial crisis. Yet, the entity responsible for this open trading system is in crisis. The Doha Round negotiations have stalled since 2008, thus rendering moot one of the WTO's main functions. Now, since December 10, 2019, its other function, that of resolving trade disputes, is also inoperative. Its Appellate Body, normally made up of seven members, has now been left with only one, as the US has blocked all new appointments, leaving it with no working quorum.
A go-for-it Brexit: Until the recent UK elections, there was still hope Brexit might be stalled in one way or another, and thus avoid what some consider to be the first step toward the break-up of Europe. With an overwhelming majority won by the Tories in these elections, and Prime Minister Boris Johnson at the helm, that hope is now gone. For the next few years, both Britain and the EU will be consumed by the protracted negotiations to make that happen, precluding the EU from playing a forward role in global affairs, at a time when it will be most needed.
A proxy-war riven Middle East: The murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi by the Saudi government, within the confines of its own consulate in Istanbul in 2018, indicated the degree to which all bets are off in a region that jumps from crisis to crisis. The Sunni-Shia conflict within the Muslim world, reflecting the geopolitical and ideological rivalry between Iran and Saudi Arabia, is in full swing. Syria and Iraq stand firmly with Iran, Sunni-majority countries like Egypt do so with the Saudis, and those like Lebanon are caught in the middle. The full break-up of the US-Iran nuclear deal, and Tehran's signals that it now feels free to join the nuclear arms race, add to an already volatile situation.
A case can be made that all these issues are long-in-the-making processes that took many years to come to the fore and will not necessarily reach a boiling point in 2020. Touché. Yet, my point is a different one. It is the combination of such serious global governance issues with trade and technological tensions at a time of increasing disregard for once established norms of international behavior that creates such an international tinderbox.
And this is not by happenstance. As Italian Marxist philosopher Antonio Gramsci put it, "a crisis consists precisely in the fact that the old is dying and the new cannot be born. In this interregnum a great variety of morbid symptoms appear." As the unipolar world that emerged at the end of the Cold War gives way to a new one, whose hallmarks are globalization and multipolarity, there is resistance and reaction against the newly emerging order. In many ways, the populist movements in the developed world are a reaction against the decline of the West and the rise of the Rest. Their disregard for the established rules of international behavior is part of the appeal to their electoral base.
None of this makes for smooth sailing. But it does put a special premium on the leadership of the rising powers of the Global South to keep the ship of global governance on an even keel as we enter an especially fraught year.
This week’s blog is being presented by Prof Anthony Bryan, Senior Associate with the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), Washington, DC and former Director of the Institute of International Relations, University of the West Indies, St Augustine. He advises that while Guyana celebrated “First Oil” on 20 December 2019, the focus of this blog is on "first lift" scheduled by March 2020. He explains that “First lift is the technical term referring to the method that involves the use of artificial means to increase the flow of crude oil from a production well. That is when an abundant amount of crude is actually produced to meet the objectives of barrels daily”.
The Commonwealth has an estimated 232 billion barrels of oil reserves or about 17% of the world’s total. Reserves from 17 member countries contribute to this stock. Canada and Nigeria are the leaders. Guyana is about to join the team in a big way.
By the end of November 2019, the international oil companies (IOCs) Exxon-Mobil and Tullow Oil had made a record of 16 oil discoveries in the Stabroek Block of the deep water Guyana -Suriname Basin and ExxonMobil was preparing to begin oil production at the Liza Phase 1 well site. Production from that field should reach 120,000 barrels a day (b/d) in 2020.
Guyana’s first lift is expected by March 2020. By 2025 production could be 750,000 b/d and by the end of the decade, more than one million b/d of oil equivalent. Under the current Production Sharing Agreement (PSA) the IOCs have a 75% cost recovery with the remaining 25% profit oil equally split between the licensees and Guyana. The current royalty rate is 2%.
The impact on the Guyanese economy can be convulsive. In 2020 it will grow by 86%, and the per capita income could more than double to US$10,000. Rystad Energy estimates that national revenue will amount to more than US$117 billion over the lifetime of the projects.
With the windfall, and a population of less than 800,000 inhabitants, Guyana could become one of the world’s richest nations per capita. Obviously it will not happen overnight. The IOCs have to recover their investment and projected peak production is still some years away. The geology is right. But a national sense of euphoria is high and caution may be in short supply.
There are some harsh realities. Guyana is new to the game of oil and gas production. Four years ago it had no known oil reserves. Now it must race to provide the necessary legislation, institutional structures and management for first oil. Crafting oil legislation is a new experience for the Guyanese.
As a frontier oil province, the country is vulnerable to the many ‘above ground’ pitfalls that could accompany the boom. The explosion of money might be difficult to absorb and to manage. Inflation can rise stifling the development of other industries. The immediate danger is that any government will leverage now on future earnings taking on more debt.
The looming pitfall is the ‘resource curse’ or the ‘paradox of plenty’ where the destabilisation of traditional economic sectors occurs as the country becomes overly dependent on exports of a single commodity. Some cash-poor but resource-rich countries tend to be less developed precisely because of their resource wealth.
The government must ensure that the country has all the provisions in place to earn its fair share of the windfall. The population can become frustrated at the lack of any immediate tangible benefits that they may have expected from the oil revenues. Managing public expectations is critical. Regulations must be developed to protect against environmental degradation including oil spills. And finally there is the elephant in the room – namely leadership corruption – which is rampant in some emerging oil states. Maybe Guyana does not have such levels of corruption; but oversight institutions are crucial in order to combat this curse.
There are positive signs. In 2017, Guyana joined the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) that will monitor its resource governance. A sovereign wealth fund (SWF) has been established to invest and spend oil revenues in a manner that transcends political cycles and generations. Parliament has passed the Natural Resource Fund (NRF) that will strengthen revenue management. The government has also put forward a Green State Development Strategy: Vision 2040 (GSDS) that is the roadmap for an economy defined by sustainable, efficient, low-carbon and resilient development for successive generations. The hydrocarbon resource revenues are expected to be the catalyst for growth and funding of the GSDS.
The key to Guyana’s success is the effective management of the oil and gas sector. Unfortunately, the political impasse in 2019 has delayed the implementation of some institutional arrangements for the management of the sector. The best laid plans are useless unless they are implemented.
Since oil is a depleting asset, the primary question is how to convert the income flows into physical, human and financial capital that can benefit generations. To that end, should Guyana seek to keep the oil in the ground for longer periods or to extract it rapidly and diversify into a more sustainable economy in case the value of the resource diminishes?
The oil price fluctuates constantly. Drilling is going on worldwide. The planet is awash with oil. Hydrocarbons will be with us for some decades to come, but they will be replaced eventually by forms of renewable energy. Guyana will prosper if the massive revenue quickly transforms the economy and the quality of life for its citizens. I am cautiously optimistic.