Views of Presidential Advisor don’t reflect President, Govt’s position – Harmon

first_img– says Govt has use for Dr Mangal’s expertiseAfter distancing itself from comments made by Dr Jan Mangal on the contract between Guyana and United States (US) oil giant ExxonMobil, Government has stated that it has use for the Presidential Advisor on Petroleum but noted that the expert does not speak on behalf of the Head of State or the Government as a whole.Presidential Advisor on Petroleum, Dr Jan MangalThis clarification was made by Minister of State Joseph Harmon on Thursday.“Dr Mangal is not a spokesperson for the President on petroleum or neither is he a spokesperson for the Government. He is an advisor to the President and works within a framework and in that framework, advice is given to His Excellency. It is up to the President to decide whether this advice is good, (he) will follow it or this advice is not good and therefore (he) will not follow it. So that’s the job of an advisor to advice, not to direct or give any directions,” Harmon told media operatives at the post Cabinet press briefing on Thursday.This comes on the heels of the Presidential Advisor telling reporters on the sidelines of an oil and gas forum at the University of Guyana (UG) on Wednesday that if Guyana is dissatisfied with the contract it signed with ExxonMobil, then the country can go ahead and have the agreement amended. He also criticised the low royalty and large concession given to the US oil company.Hours after his comments were published on online news websites, the Ministry of the Presidency issued a brief statement under the title “Dr Jan Mangal not authorised to speak on behalf of President”.Minister of State Joseph HarmonExpounding on the issue at Thursday’s post Cabinet conference, Harmon explained that Dr Mangal is part of a team that advises the president on petroleum and he can give his advice within that structure, in which case goes to the President as part of a team.“An advisor is an advisor and you provide advice to your principle… It is up to the President to decide whether he accepts or rejects that advice, so it is not for the advisor to be making a statement for the President. The President makes his own statements and the Minister of State makes these statements as the Chief Government spokesperson,” Harmon posited.Nevertheless, the Minister of State went on to outline that given his expertise, and as a citizen of Guyana, Dr Mangal is free also to personally pronounce on national or international issues.Meanwhile, asked whether Government will be renewing Dr Mangal’s contract as Presidential Advisor on Petroleum, the Minister of State could not say. He explained, “I think his contract is one which is an IDB (Inter-American Development Bank) contract itself and I can’t be too definite on that. But to the extent to which Dr Mangal continues to provide advice to the His Excellency, the President; I believe, to that extent, we have use for Dr Mangal – whether in fact he makes statements in his own, private capacity that’s another matter,” Minister Harmon stated.He went on to say that the renewal or non-renewal of Dr Mangal’s contract would be based on his expertise and advice given to the President, and not on his views expressed.Dr Mangal has a Doctorate in Offshore Geotechnical Engineering from Oxford University and a Bachelor in Civil Engineering from the University of Edinburg. He worked in the marine and oil and gas industries for over 18 years, where he spent 13 of those with US oil giant, Chevron, working on major projects in the USA, West Africa and Asia.When asked on Wednesday whether he thinks the oil contract with ExxonMobil should be renegotiated, the petroleum expert stated that while he has his views he is not ready to pronounce on that publicly but did say it is a topic of discussion with the Government.Furthermore, the President’s Petroleum Advisor noted that renegotiated terms such as the two per cent royalty on earnings from ExxonMobil’s oil sales and the non-payment of taxes on Exxon’s share of the profits, is low compared to global standards.To this end, he raised concerns about the system used to negotiate that agreement and also the expertise of the persons doing the negotiating.The University of Guyana discussion on the emerging oil and gas industry was held on the day the inaugural Guyana International Petroleum Business Summit (GEPEX) opened and the President’s Petroleum Advisor’s absence from the event was notable.When asked about that, he told reporters that he was never invited to the event.last_img

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