Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo has expressed disappointment with the level of representation made by the Guyana Government during the bilateral talks and subsequent signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Trinidad and Tobago (TT).
“It is a sellout,” he declared at a news conference.
He suggested that the coalition administration undermined the intellect of Guyanese by agreeing to set up a “technical working group” in the twin island republic when it has not even considered developing such a mechanism in Guyana.
“Imagine we don’t have a technical working group in our Parliament to look at the future of our oil and gas industry, but we can sign an MoU to establish a joint technical working group with another country,” Jagdeo stated.
He added: “It just shows how we value or how we don’t value our own people’s opinions.”
He further asserted that there needs to be reciprocity in any diplomatic agreement and lamented that in the case of Guyana, its Government dropped the ball by signing a “lopsided” MoU.
For example, he explained that the Government did not do a sufficient job in representing Guyana’s interest in the agriculture sector, especially as it relates to the country’s honey exports.
Guyana is unable to transship honey through Trinidad and Tobago because of a decades old law. In fact, in 2015, local shipping company Laparkan was fined US$3000 for facilitating the movement of honey within one mile of the island’s shores.
Jagdeo is particularly upset with comments made by Trinidad’s Minister of Agriculture Clarence Rambharat who said: “I am not afraid to say we are very defensive on honey because we have a very strong sector and a good record on honey.”
“Every country can then block your exports because they can claim they have a strong sector; it is very revealing,” Jagdeo stated.
“And what did our government do?”
He also touched on the “harassment” of Guyanese passing through immigration in Trinidad and Tobago, asking what did the coalition do to address these issues.
Jagdeo made it clear that he is not waging a war with Trinidad and Tobago, but he is merely highlighting how the Coalition government failed to address issues of free trade and free movement.
He said too his argument was with the government’s commitment to have important discussions with foreign officials but not with Guyanese.