Who Are The Consultants, Negotiators and Middlemen? How Much Is Being Stolen Or Bargained Away?
The one thing that is certain about the oil that might be off our coast is that Barbados as a country has just about zero serious experience in the oil resources industry.
Unlike many nations, we have no experienced team of negotiators with a track record of success in dealing with huge multi-national oil companies. If the truth be known, we probably have only a handful of Bajans who have any oil resource management experience at all.
Our previous BLP government and the current DLP government are ill-equipped for the task of securing the best possible oil deals for our country. The very confidence that our leaders must exude to retain credibility with the citizens and with the oil-companies is their weakness – because it blinds them to the fact that they know so little that they are probably setting Barbados up like a chicken for plucking.
Oil Industry Is Famous For Corruption – And Rightly So
“Exxon/Mobil and other leading oil companies are to face an investigation into how up to $500,000,000 (£310m) came to be paid into a private US bank account, said to be solely controlled by the President of Equatorial Guinea.” … from Exxon-Mobil Caught In Secret Payments Scandal
If there is one thing that the history of oil has taught us, it is that well-meaning leaders everywhere have been corrupted or thwarted in their desire to see their citizens receive full and rightful benefits of their oil natural resources.
The way these oil companies work is they go to the government members and bribe them to put aside their loyalties to their country. How many government officials would refuse millions of dollars in offshore cash to write a “sweetheart” deal between their country and the oil company? Most… some? How many?
Whether it is a US oil firm like Baker Hughes paying US$4.1 million in bribes in Kazakhstan, Barbados prison builder and oil service company VECO pleading guilty to bribing elected US officials, Exxon Oil Company bribing judges, or Shell Oil bribing witnesses to testify against activists in Nigeria (who were executed) – the standard operating procedures of the oil industry are corrupt.
And these oil companies that are so experienced in the art of corrupting local politicians are now negotiating with the Barbados government.
Get this one fact straight in your mind: oil companies will be attempting to bribe our elected and appointed government officials during the current process.
No Conflict Of Interest Laws In Barbados
In Barbados it is not against the law for an elected or appointed government official to receive gifts from an oil company that is bidding for our offshore oil – even if that government official is directly involved in the process.
Think about that.
It is not against the law for an oil company to hire a Member of Parliament’s spouse, son or daughter as a “consultant” during the process.
Think about that too.
It is not against the law for an oil company to hire a Member of Parliament’s spouse as a “consultant” once they have secured a deal with Barbados. And… if that spouse is such a great consultant that they are paid a percentage of oil profits every year of the contract… That is not illegal in Barbados either.
We have no laws to prohibit the types of direct and indirect corruption that the oil companies excel in.
We have no transparency in process of awarding the contracts. We have no requirement for government officials to refuse a conflict of interest or to reveal it. We have no Freedom of Information laws that would allow citizens to monitor the process and examine source documents, reports and financial transactions.
Where Is The Transparency? Where Are The Safeguards?
Barbados’ offshore oil is a national treasure – made all the more precious by the continuing deterioration in our tourism industry. The deals being negotiated right now will impact our island for generations – yet our country lacks even the most basic laws to prohibit government officials from indirectly profiting from side-deals with the oil companies.
You can bet that when the BLP government fell, certain oil companies lost a few dollars – but you can also bet that they are prepared to do business with the new DLP government officials.
The oil companies are very aware that under the new DLP Thompson government, there are no laws to prohibit the giving of “gifts” to Barbados government officials. The oil companies are also aware that the Thompson government reneged on its promise to adopt a Ministerial Code from day one.
We Remember David Thompson’s Speech About “Sharing The Fatted Calf”
How about it, Prime Minister Thompson… why haven’t you adopted the Ministerial Code as you promised?
Perhaps it is something to do with your “sharing the fatted calf” speech?