Guyana does not have enough capacity to develop a policy for local content in the oil and gas sector and would need foreign help in this regard.
These was the view expressed by Canadian High Commissioner to Guyana Lillian Chatterjee, who said that it is important for Guyanese to develop the skills to eventually be able to manage the oil and gas sector themselves, but noted that “the hard reality is, they don’t have the skills now” and it may take years before that is fully developed.
The Canadian envoy therefore believes that while it may be the politically correct thing to preach local content, she noted that Guyana will have to learn from others. She noted also that at one point, Canada sought expertise of other oil producing nations for their sector.
“So, you have to welcome others who have that expertise, who are willing to share it with you to learn from them. And once you learn from them, then you are in a position to manage your own industry,” she told this media group.
The second review of the local content policy is expected to be completed by the first quarter of next year, Business Minister Dominic Gaskin has said.
Government recently completed a terms of reference for a consultancy to complete the local content policy based on consultations and a draft, also an implementation plan.
Gaskin said it was important for the new legislation to be ‘balanced’, since a ‘too strongly national’ local content policy can jeopardise the efficiency or the viability of the company being relied on to harness the resource.
“There seems to be a reticent to accept foreign expertise and Guyana sorely needs it. I hope the citizens of Guyana understand that you accept it from those who are well meaning, who don’t have a hidden agenda,” Chatterjee added.
Further, she said Canada is not asking Guyana for a special deals in oil, but rather, the country is here to share its expertise with the Government. “Why? Because Guyana has always been a good solid partner of Canada. We have accompanied Guyana from its independence and we have this good strong history,” she noted.
The draft local content policy has been criticised in recent months for lacking provisions which would safeguard against exploitation by companies, especially since there have been intensified reports of the local companies being bypassed for contracts and services with foreign companies being favoured.
The document does not cater for issues such as how to avoid procurement fraud, conflict of interest and favouritism, among others.
The Guyana government and the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador will be signing a technical cooperation agreement on oil and gas later today (Monday). (Samuel Sukhnandan)