While the role of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in protecting the interest and wellbeing of the nation is regarded as a most important one, it must do so in a manner that facilitate, rather than curtail investments. Guyana’s Vice President, Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo, made this observation on Thursday evening during an interview on local radio programme, Guyana’s Oil and You.
His comment was made in response to questions regarding the need to build the capacity of the EPA so that it can be a robust regulator of the oil sector. Dr.Jagdeo was keen to note that all the environmental provisions governing the relationship between the State and the oil companies must be properly enshrined in the contracts or development plans. Once that is done, he said that those provisions would have to be enforced while adding that this would mean developing the relevant capability to do so in an effective manner.
The Vice President articulated that the government has already outlined its position that there would be no flaring and that a policy would be implemented in this regard. He said, too, that the PPP/C administration has made it clear that there must be adequate provisions in place to ensure the liabilities for oil spills are dealt with by the companies and nothing is left on the shoulders of the State.
The Vice President acknowledged that the EPA’s ability to manage the foregoing has to be enhanced but at the same time, he stressed that the regulatory body cannot become a humbug to investment. He said that this is not just for the oil and gas industry but across all sectors.
The Vice President stated, “…We want to strike that balance. We get an enormous number of complaints about projects which have very little impact on the environment, but people have to wait very long for approval, or they have to pay someone to get it.”
Dr. Jagdeo added, “So we want the agency to safeguard the country and our welfare but at the same time, be open to economic development.”