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Guyana Local Content Policy, Legislation must guard against “rent-a-citizen” scenarios – GCCI President

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Kaieteur News

GEORGETOWN
Petroleumworld 11 10 2021

If Guyana is to succeed with its imminent Local Content Policy and Legislation, then it is paramount that it gets the definition of a local company right. This point was recently iterated by President of the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI), Mr. Timothy Tucker, during an appearance on Kaieteur Radio’s programme, Guyana’s Oil and You.

Tucker was keen to note that the definition is paramount, as it will ultimately determine the extent of the socio-economic progression Guyanese would be able to achieve in its oil sector. Expounding further he said, “…Local content is generally what we are going to get as a nation from this (oil) find…It is the guaranteed way for Guyanese to benefit from the natural resources that we have found offshore that will be developed.”

At the same time, Tucker said efforts to achieve high degrees of local content should not be interpreted to mean that there must a blockade or a dome placed over Guyana and the opportunities to flow from its oil wealth. The GCCI President said, “What we want is that when various aspects of the oil and gas industry require certain services that Guyanese can qualify for, or are certified for, or they have the capacity to do, then they should be given to Guyanese. We are asking for local content to mean first consideration of locals for the opportunities that are there. So advertise it locally, see what capacity is there locally, and then give us the opportunity to do the work.”

If it is found that Guyanese do not have the capacity or required technical skill for a particular service that is needed, the GCCI President said companies can then seek to tap overseas resources or expertise. In so doing however, Tucker alluded to the need for joint venture partnerships to ensure the transfer of knowledge and technology. He also stressed that the beneficiary ownership of such arrangements remain local. The GCCI President categorically stated that joint ventures or partnerships should not allow for a case where the local on paper owns 51 percent of the company but his foreign partner holds the voting rights and gains 95 percent of the profits. He categorically stated that this is not local content. “That’s rent a citizen basically. You’re just leasing a citizen to use his name. No! We don’t want that. We want beneficial partnerships…,” the GCCI President expressed.

Sharing similar sentiments was his colleague, GCCI’s Executive Member, Richard Rambarran. He was quick to note that local content, irrespective of what instrument, tool or policy measures is used, must lead to significant value retention in the country.“So it’s about what percentage or what quantum of the value which is generated from the particular sector is retained in the country, whether it be through earnings, the size of the procurement, through a majority share,” expressed Rambarran.

He reminded that the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry, since the beginning of the ongoing local content debate, has held the position that it is supportive of partnerships in the oil and gas sector, as well as the peripheral sectors which support the industry’s development.

“Essentially, there are fields where Guyanese do not have the experience or exposure within an international business arena. Therefore, it would be more beneficial for a Guyanese company to be able to partner with someone who brings that skill set to the table…

“We may not have in Guyana, the ability to do complex subsea engineering processes, for example, but we will have Guyanese persons who are skilled, Guyanese who understand logistics…and how to navigate the landscape,” expressed Rambarran.

The GCCI Executive added, “…this is the reason why the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry, in particular, has always encouraged joint venture-ships and partnerships that are mutually beneficial.”



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