Gov’t moving to disclose contracts in natural resources sector

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One day after the full disclosure of its contract with ExxonMobil, the Government has begun informing companies of the need to disclose their contracts to level the playing field across the sector.

Following the revelation of the US$18M signing bonus, ExxonMobil Country Manager, Rod Henson called for other companies in the sector to make similar disclosures.

At a post cabinet media briefing on Friday, Minister of Natural Resources, Raphael Trotman disclosed that the administration intends to make public all contracts, inclusive of the ones entered into by the previous administration.

“Indeed, we have started to write to all of the companies informing them that the playing field has to be leveled and that their contracts will be made public, the Minister said.

He pointed to the website developed by the Government to publish its contract with ExxonMobil, noting that the same method will be used to disclose the others.

“The intention of the Government is to post all contracts including those which preceded us coming into office,” he added.

On numerous occasions, Government cited confidentiality clauses within contracts, including the one with ExxonMobil, as the main reason why they cannot be released to public. However, when asked today about those very confidentiality clauses, the Natural Resources Minister said the confidentiality clauses within the contracts will be reviewed, “but I believe that in the context of 2017, these clauses don’t hold much water.”

When asked how the US$18M signing bonus from ExxonMobil was arrived at, the Minister said the Government looked at the amount of monies spent on legal services in the past at the international tribunal and “we may have added to that.”

The signing bonus is set aside to fight government’s case at the International Court of Justice as it relates to the controversy with Venezuela. Despite criticisms, Minister Trotman said the Government is satisfied with the contract.

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