The Roop Column
RBP + LEF + O = D
26 January 2008
Peter R. Ramsaroop, MBA
RBP + LEF + O = D (Race-based Politics + Limited Economic Freedom + Oil = Disaster)
This column is a follow-up to my column from December 23rd titled “Natural Resources” where our team proposed that the profits of oil be shared with the people as written in an academic paper from one of our team members, JC Bollers.
The riots in Kenya have killed hundreds of people and displaced hundreds of thousands more. This should motivate us to conclusively resolve ethnic conflict in Guyana if we ever want to have lasting prosperity. The post-election violence and riots have caused tourists to flee Kenya or decide to visit somewhere else. Trust in Kenya's political system has been shattered. Their economy may soon follow; and they don't even have oil.
This should teach us that democracy is much more than being able to vote once in every election. When people use their own money and judgment to make purchases or donations, they are practising a type of 'economic democracy'.
Everyone is part of the mechanism that chooses the best firms and charities. When one ethnic group or race is favoured over another for both political office and economic opportunities, both types of democracy are lost. The disenfranchised in Kenya are not rioting only because their candidate has (probably wrongfully) lost the presidential election. They are rioting because their country has not even found a half-measure to resolve the ethnic discrimination that characterizes both their politics and also their economy.
If Guyana's oil reserves are proven and then controlled by our government, it could spell disaster for our country. With the nature of our current politics, we cannot allow simultaneous control of both political and economic power. We may be able to foster long-term prosperity and peace if we can somewhat separate political favour from economic opportunity.
We have researched and written about democratising Guyana's natural resources extracted from public property. This means that oil royalties would be dispersed evenly amongst our citizens. The government would have to accountably tax us in order to fund its operations. To date, our organisation Vision Guyana is the first and so far the only organisation to adopt this as part of their vision of a prosperous future for Guyana.
On January third, CGX Energy Inc. released an independent assessment of the probable amount of oil found in the offshore Corentyne concession. Its best estimate puts our oil reserves at 2.7 billion barrels. However, the odds of finding no oil at all are 61 percent. This leaves a 39 percent chance of finding even a little oil at either one or both major drill sites, to be produced at Global Competitive Prices.
One Saudi oil minister once said, “All in all, I wish we had discovered water.” We too may be 'lucky' enough to understand why he said this. The risks we face as a resource rich nation are as real as Saudi Arabia's. Those we face as a developing multiracial democracy are as real as Kenya's. If we allow the bounty of our country to further divide us along racial lines, we may forever be the land of many backwaters. Most Guyanese may continue to prefer living elsewhere.
Let us act now to secure our democracy by 'democratising' our natural resources extracted from public land. Each Guyanese citizen will vote every day by spending or investing his or her share of the royalties in a free market economy. No one's race will be an issue to someone wishing to sell or buy something. No one's party affiliation will affect whether or not they profit from the public natural bounty that rightfully belongs to each and every one of us. I don't offer this as a solution to all our problems, but this might be the one thing that makes the biggest difference in our way of life. We propose that consultation be started on exploring these recommendations.
“Democratising our natural resources” can help us realize our hope for ONE NATION, ONE PEOPLE, with ONE DESTINY.
Sunday, January 27, 2008
The Roop Column