Attorney General Anil Nandlall has highlighted the government’s position on the audit into ExxonMobil’s spending of US$9.5 billion for past petroleum works.
He said local capacity will have to be first built to ensure there are Guyanese who can competently conduct the audits before it is done.
Nandlall explained that a delay in auditing was in no way a failure or resistance by the government to audit the oil giant’s expenses.
“The impression that is being conveyed is that the government has assumed an absolute position that it will not audit these expenditures and that is furthest from the truth,” he said during his Tuesday night ‘Issues in the News’ commentary aired on his Facebook page.
The audits were supposed to commence under APNU+AFC government in 2017 and they were not done for the period that they remained in government until August 2020.
The PPP/C government while in opposition was very critical of the then APNU+AFC Coalition’s failure to conduct the very audits.
“We got into government and said we building local capacity to do the audit and we are in the process of doing that.
“ExxonMobil is not disappearing anywhere, the expenditures they submitted will not vanish,” Nandlall said as he insisted that local capacity needed to be strengthened.
He said when capacity is built then the audits will take place.
“For three years the audits were not done and we didn’t see this avalanche of criticisms but in just one year we are being hammered,” he added.
The AG said it was duplicitous to offer criticism when there is simultaneously a call for local content.
“Do you have an idea what the audit fees are? Why should that not go to Guyanese? Why can’t we not wait to build a consortium of locally qualified persons? Would it not be better or you want us to bring foreigners to do the work, charge and go with it?” he quizzed.
Nandlall reiterated that the government remained committed to conducting the audits as part of its obligation and duties.
He said the government is involved in a process by which local auditors will be identified in due course and the audits will be done.
“Every tom, dick and harry now jumps on a horse and criticise the government…but I’m sure the Vice-President and subject minister will expand on what I am saying in due course,” he added.
Vice-President Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo had already put forward similar reasoning for a delay in the audits he once called for while serving as Opposition Leader.