Guyana to weigh local auditors’ contribution before next Exxon audit phase

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Guyana’s government is taking a contemplative approach to future audits of Exxon’s costs. Vice President Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo recently revealed that the administration is awaiting conclusions from the 2018-2020 cost audit before deciding on the path forward for subsequent assessments. A pivotal factor is the performance and quality of work rendered by local auditors.

“I had said we should bring in local people… We’ve done so for the first time in the 2018-2020 audit. I’m looking policy-wise for a report on the quality of the audit, whether bringing in local people allows us to support the industry standards or compromises that, because there has been some push-back from another section, saying that the locals can’t handle this, that they don’t have the experience.” Jagdeo stated.

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He further emphasized the significance of the feedback, which needs to come from the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) and the auditors. “If we have a favourable view of [the audit] – but it must come from the GRA and the auditors – then we will continue to insist that it be done, a significant part, by locals,” Jagdeo stated.

In a move that underscored the administration’s commitment to building local capacity, the 2018-2020 Exxon audit marked the first time Guyanese firms were actively involved in cost audits. This was facilitated by hiring a consortium consisting of both international and local firms, with a mandate to train Guyanese auditors. Notably, the consortium included Guyanese entities like Ramdihal and Haynes Chartered Accounting and Professional Services Firm, Vitality Accounting and Consultancy Inc., and Eclisar Financial & Professional Services.

They were hired in May 2022. At the time, Minister of Natural Resources, Vickram Bharrat, explained the intent behind the move, highlighting the administration’s dedication to the local content movement. He mentioned that the government could have solely relied on international firms, but instead, they prioritised offering locals a stake in the process.

The audit concerns approximately US$7.3 billion in Stabroek block expenses placed by ExxonMobil into the cost bank, to be recovered. Government has not given a timeline for the conclusion of the audit process.

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