“It will not go down well” – President warns of tougher policies if foreign firms bypass locals

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President Dr Irfaan Ali has issued a stark warning to foreign companies who do not adhere to expectations for local content in Guyana, cautioning that such actions can force the Government to change its policy and tighten up even further on local content.

During his feature address at the opening of Italian investor Saipem’s fabrication facility on Saturday, President Ali had a message for other investors. He urged them to take their local content commitments seriously, lest the Government’s hand be forced to tighten up the policy.

“I’ve made it very clear. And I am very transparent. You don’t have to guess me. Logistics is not scientific work. Logistics should easily go to Guyanese. Don’t tell me I need a foreign logistics firm to tell me how to do brokerage services. Or how to clear someone at the airports. Or how to hire taxis, rentals to use in the industry.”

“And then the very logistic companies would come and own twenty properties and do the rentals themselves. It will not go down well. Don’t second guess me. Whether you’re a sub-contractor or not, it will not go down well. You will push us to change our policy.”

Additionally, the President noted that it should be a part of these investors’ own business model to collaborate with the local Private Sector. And he noted that the Guyanese Private Sector also has an opportunity to service neighbouring oil and gas sectors, such as Suriname which has been discovering oil in its own waters.

“The Local Content Policy is very clear. If Guyanese have the capability and are competitive, they have to be given the opportunity. They have to be given the business opportunity. And in any good business model, good corporate social responsibility, investors should find it not only essential, but part of their value. Part of their own internal value, to collaborate with the local Private Sector. So that we could build the capacity and create opportunity.”

After assuming office in August last year, President Ali established a High-Level Local Content Panel 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 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 in February and President Dr Ali himself opened the discussion from which authorities were expected to receive feedback and comments for the finalisation of the critical document.

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.

Among the key objectives of the Local Content Policy are to enhance the skills and competencies of Guyanese citizens; promote maximum use of Guyanese in the petroleum sector workforce; maximise the use of locally sourced goods and services in the petroleum sector; enhance the capacity of Guyanese businesses and supply chains to become internationally competitive; enhance and make world-class the training, technology, innovation and research and development base of Guyana, just to scratch the surface.