Attorney-at-Law and Member of Parliament Sanjeev Datadin insists that his suggestion that Guyana can enter a reservation to opt-out of certain obligations under CARICOM’s Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas (RTC), is sound, irrespective of arguments that resist such an approach.
Datadin’s comments come in wake of those proffered by Advisor on Borders, Carl Greenidge on Monday. The former Foreign Affairs Minister and Foreign Secretary presented several arguments as a means of dissuading Guyanese, Datadin included, against the country considering opting out of the RTC. This, according to Greenidge, includes the notion that Guyana respects the ‘sanctity of treaties’ as it is currently arguing in the border case against Venezuela at the International Court of Justice.
Datadin said Greenidge’s arguments represent a mosaic of confusing comparisons and senseless posturing devoid of context.
Datadin said one must first understand that he never suggested at any point that Guyana will opt out of the RTC; but rather presented same as an option that is before Guyana. “There are other options of course but the option I mentioned is simply to make clear the resolve of the government in ensuring locals benefit from their national resources. The scale of consideration is indicative of the government’s promise to deliver on ensuring Guyanese benefit. This is to demonstrate that those who think Guyana is powerless, she isn’t. She is in control of her destiny and the government will use whatever it has to use.”
As to Greenidge’s point on GATT and MFN, Datadin said these speak to trade barriers and have no correlation with the matter at hand which deals with who owns the resources and who is entitled to benefit.
The lawyer said, “This is not about the export of our oil resources and therefore his argument along those lines is irrelevant to the issue… What you also need to realize is that for one to seek to equate that with Guyana being unfair to CARICOM or taking benefits from CARICOM and not reciprocating is utter nonsense having regard to the history of CARICOM and the hardships that we have been through.”
He added, “Any honest and reasonable person would tell you CARICOM has largely been a failure to achieve the unity that it should. It still can’t get all members to agree to use the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ)…and the Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) which promotes trade and economic development of the Caribbean Community is largely useless because their decisions have little or no effect and take too long.”
Datadin argued that many institutional creatures of CARICOM do not work as effectively and quickly as they should, alluding that Guyana does not stand to lose significantly if it goes the route of opting out of certain obligations under the RTC.
The lawyer further reiterated that he is not by any means suggesting that this is the only course of action available to the government. However, the politician said the government has a duty to be fair to Guyanese.
“We are not stopping CARICOM nationals from coming and participating; we are saying for some sectors, locals must be given a preference. We are a poor developing country, and we have to manage our resources well… We cannot abandon our people. We have to protect our people and we have to put measures in place that allow them to grow into the sector where they can compete evenly and fairly,” Datadin argued.
As to Greenidge’s point on Venezuela, Datadin said this was a completely out of line comparison, in fact, utterly nonsensical.
He said, in conclusion, that the criticisms from Trinidad regarding the legality of Local Content Law have and will continue to be addressed while adding that those who defend the spirit and intent of the law are at the heart and soul of doing what is in the best interest of Guyanese.