Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo, currently in Ghana on a three-day visit, has held talks with his Ghanian counterpart Dr Mahamudu Bawumia and has announced that Ghanian experts will be reviewing Guyana’s draft local content legislation.
He made this announcement during a programme on Asaase radio in Ghana, where he was interviewed on Guyana and its own growing oil and gas sector. It turns out that Guyana can learn a lot from Ghana, which has a fully developed oil and gas sector and the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) Government fully intends to tap into that knowledge.
“The Local Content Policy that I came here to talk to Ghana about, hopefully by the end of the year we pass this. We want a second look from technicians from here, who’ve done this before, looking at the draft we have, so we can pass this. So that all our people benefit. We work for all 800,000 of our people. If we don’t transform this massive windfall we will experience into better lives for our people, we would have failed as a Government,” Jagdeo said.
In elaborating on the need for Guyana to capitalise on the oil and gas sector, Jagdeo explained the importance of Guyana growing its non-oil economy, while at the same time looking after Guyana from a social perspective.
“We have to build the next generation infrastructure to support a low carbon, non-oil economy. We had laid out this plan before we even discovered oil. So, the oil resources can accelerate our plans for the development of those sectors.”
“Secondly, it has to put in place both the infrastructure on the social side and the economic side. So, the roads, the ports, the hospitals, the schools of the future, the big scale infrastructure. And of course, massive amounts of training and support for growing Indigenous industries.”
During Jagdeo’s meeting with the Ghanian Vice President, they spoke about the initiatives that Ghana implemented to further their industrial agenda and develop its non-oil economy. According to Jagdeo, Guyana with its vast arable lands in the savannahs and the prevalence of fresh water, is uniquely positioned to capitalise on the agricultural sector and the global demand.
“The world is growing. By 2050 we’ll have 10 to 11 billion people living in the world. The consumption patterns have changed. People are eating more meat. It takes more grains to produce meat. So, on the demand side, you’re going to have massive growth.”
“On the supply side, because so many parts of the world are water stressed. And you have arable land because you cannot convert forest into agricultural lands because of climate change.
This will lead to increased prices. Food production will become an important task of the future,” Jagdeo explained.
The Vice President was accompanied on his visit to Ghana by Floyd Haynes, a member of the Advisory Panel on Local Content in Guyana; Gopnauth Bobby Gossai Jr of the Natural Resources Ministry, and career Diplomat Hamley Case.
It is fitting that Haynes was a part of the delegation to Ghana. He was on the High-Level Local Content Panel that President Dr Irfaan Ali established after assuming office in August last year, to review policy initiatives on local content in the petroleum sector and provide guidance for the development of Guyana’s Local Content Policy and Legislation.
The panel, chaired by Shyam Nokta, compiled and submitted the Local Content Report. Also on the panel were former Foreign Affairs Minister and Economist Carl Greenidge, Carvil Duncan, Anthony Paul, Kevin Ramnarine and the Natural Resources Ministry’s Legal Officer Sasha Rajkumar-Budhan.
The end product was a list of recommendations and subsequently, a draft Local Content Policy that the Government had released in February of this year. The stakeholders’ consultation on Guyana’s draft Local Content Policy for its petroleum sector started that same month. Approximately 140 stakeholders were engaged by the panel on the compilation of the report.
The report outlines several recommendations to improve the country’s policies and legislation.
Government is likely to hire experts to examine and incorporate comments and suggestions emanating from these stakeholder consultations into the final policy document that will be presented in the National Assembly.