…despite Opposition’s criticisms of Govt’s unpreparednessSince the discovery of oil and gas in Guyana, there has been much debate and discussion surrounding the slow pace at which Government is looking to implement policies to guide how revenues are spent from this new-found natural resource.But Business Minister Dominic Gaskin feels Government has been doing its best to prepare for this sector. As such, he told a recent forum that he is pleased with the progress the coalition has made but said it is now left up to Guyanese to make use of the opportunities available in the sector.“Everything may not be perfect, and I don’t think anyone is saying that it is, I am certainly not saying that everything is perfect, but what I am saying is, that I’m satisfied with the progress that has been made in the petroleum sector since the announcement of the discoveries in 2015 and to date.”The Minister said he is also satisfied that some Guyanese are already benefiting from the sector and many more Guyanese will most likely benefit once oil production begins in 2020.“I’m also satisfied that our Government is doing everything it can to ensure that Guyanese, not just now but for generations to come will benefit from Guyana’s oil,” he stated.According to Gaskin, with the circulation of oil money in Guyana through local procurement, local employment, and through local spending by expatriate employees, contractors, consultants and other professionals, Guyana’s economy will experience significant growth.“Should we try and maximise the benefits that Guyanese will enjoy from oil andBusiness Minister Dominic Gaskingas? Of course! There is more than one way to achieve this…of course, there is,” he added, noting that while some people are questioning Government’s approach, others and taking advantage of the opportunities.However, he said it is unfortunate that many are not, because they are caught up and distracted by the negative rhetoric coming from a handful of what he described as self-appointed experts, many of whom are quietly positioning themselves to benefit from the industry.“Some of them want to get there first because little competition is possible and that therefore happen to see Guyanese disenchanted with the prospect of oil, he explained adding that many Guyanese still live below the poverty line and they too must benefit from the oil resources.“…They (the poor) are looking forward to oil production. They are depending on Government to make the right decisions for their future and their children’s future. I want to assure you all that this is what our Government will do and we will ensure that every Guyanese benefit,” he stated.He added that the prospect of oil production has created quite a buzz in Guyana as well as outside of Guyana, noting that he believes “it’s generally a good thing for us, in fact, the actual news is extremely positive, the discovery so far and the outfield development, the development of the production vessel and the shore-based activity, it’s all very good news for Guyana and we need to turn it into positive outcomes.UnpreparednessWith just two years to go before first oil, Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo has said Government has not made any substantial plans for the oil sector. Jagdeo has urged the coalition to formulate a national oil spill policy as a priority, and said the other key legislations are still not in place.“I’m saying to you, if we don’t address these critical issues, if we don’t address the rest of the economy, Guyana will be worst off in the next decade than we are now. You read the experience of many of those countries. Check the assessment of Chad and Nigeria and Venezuela and all those places. And just hear where they are today,” Jagdeo urged at one of his press conferences. Further, Jagdeo said, “They were supposed to get the Sovereign Wealth Fund to protect our interest and they failed on that. They failed on the Petroleum Commission. They failed on local content. It’s the same pattern. They’re failing to address this issue in a manner that protect Guyana.”However, Jagdeo made it clear to reporters that his position on the state of preparedness for the new industry was at variance to what is contained in the Government publication. “We still haven’t gotten the Petroleum Commission, no local content legislation, no Sovereign Wealth Fund, no decision on whether they will auction the blocks… but all the measures are in place for 2020,” he said.Some stakeholders and sections of the society in Guyana have said that preparations for first oil should have been at a more advanced stage since the country is less than two years away from production. Government has however maintained that all systems will be in place in time for 2020.