After being denied of Local Content Certificate in June, Trinidad-based company, Ramps Logistics has resubmitted its application for entry into the Local Content Registry. The application was made on July 14, 2022.
In a release to the media, the company stated that its updated application for a Local Content Certificate includes the additional nine items requested by the Secretariat in a letter dated June 24, 2022.
“We would again like to thank the officials at the Local Content Secretariat for responding to our request and outlining the additional information needed to meet the requirement for entry into the Local Content Registry. We look forward to continuing working with the Secretariat and resolving all issues,” the company added.
Further, the release stated that the company continues to appreciate the support from all of its stakeholders, especially its team members while adding that it awaits a speedy resolution to the unfortunate situation. Back in June, the company had requested answers after it was denied its Local Content Certificate – one of the requirements of the Local Content Act that was passed last December.
The Act defines a local company as one incorporated under the Companies Act and beneficially owned by Guyanese nationals. Beneficial ownership is defined as owning 51 per cent of the company. Additionally, a local company is expected to have Guyanese in at least 75 per cent of executive and senior management positions and at least 90 per cent in non-managerial and other positions.
Ramps Logistics Guyana had claimed that it followed all the requisite guidelines, but the Government had denied its Local Content Certificate, via an “automated” email, without any explanation.
The company said while it was not making any assertions as to why it was denied entry into the Local Content Registry, this move would negatively affect the company and ultimately threaten the more than 400 Guyanese employees’ livelihoods.
“The Local Content Secretariat is entirely within its right to refuse entry to any company seeking registration according to the legislation. However, we ask that reason be given for this denial so that companies can take the necessary steps to become compliant,” the company said in a statement, adding that transparent protocols should be put in place to aid investors willing to set up operations in Guyana.
At a subsequent press conference, Ramps Logistics Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Shaun Rampersad related that the company divested 51 per cent ownership of its Guyana operations to Trinidad-based investor Deepak Lall, who has Guyanese parentage, to bring its operations in compliance with the Local Content Laws.
Lall’s grandfather and father are both Guyana-born but migrated in 1961, and the family now operates one of the largest oil and gas companies in the Caribbean out of Trinidad. In fact, Lall’s grandfather was in the petroleum business in Guyana, operating a gas station – Lall’s Esso Station in Vreed-en-Hoop, West Bank Demerara during the 1950s.
According to the CEO, Lall bought 51 per cent shares for $210 million and the monies were earmarked for two major projects for the company – a new cargo airline for additional airlift into and out of Guyana, and secondly, a new shipping line to move cargo among Guyana, Trinidad, and Suriname.
He noted that the company felt it was playing its part in bringing not just investments but network and skills from the Guyanese Diaspora back into Guyana in keeping with charges and pleas from President Dr Irfaan Ali.
Prior to the denial, Ramps Logistics Guyana was fined $20 million by the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) for violating local customs laws. It was reported that the company, which has provided freight forwarding and supply chain management services here since 2013, acts as the agent of Motor Vessel Seacor Mixteca, and they failed to report the vessel departing Guyana.
This was in violation of the Customs Act hence Ramps paid the fine of $20 million in lieu of court proceedings being instituted against the company by the GRA. On this note, the company said that indeed there was an issue with the GRA, but claimed it was able to resolve the issue legally.