Stakeholders can now register grievances with Local Content Secretariat

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…as mechanism created to receive complaints

The Local Content Secretariat, which is the focal point for the Government’s efforts to ensure Guyanese get a piece of the pie from the oil and gas sector, is now equipped with a grievance mechanism that will allow stakeholders to report violations.

The secretariat, which was set up last month, now has in place a grievance form online that allows persons to register their concerns. According to the form, the aim of this initiative is to allow the secretariat to conduct its own investigations and interventions.

“The Ministry of Natural Resources – Local Content Secretariat seeks to understand the concerns of stakeholders as it relates to Local Content. This input will drive the Secretariat’s various investigative and intervention measures. If you have any concerns related to Local Content, submit the information in the input-form,” it explained.

It allows persons to document their grievances, identify perpetrators and even state what actions they would like to take on their behalf. These grievance forms can be accessed on the Natural Resources Ministry website.

Concerns have previously been raised by unions about the treatment of locals in the oil and gas sector. One such union, the Guyana Agriculture and General Workers Union (GAWU), had even met with Minister of Home Affairs Robeson Benn in January, where these concerns were brought to his attention.

The Local Content Secretariat allows locals to register their businesses and their individual skill sets. This is so there is a ready-made pool of skills and services to draw from when opportunities become available in the sector.

There are two portals. One register deals with supplier registration and the other deals with employment registration. Applicants have the option of submitting their applications in either electronic or hardcopy form. Once their applications are submitted, applicants will receive an acknowledgment of receipt and a reference number, after which a review process will start.

“After conducting the necessary checks and balances, the secretariat will either approve the application and issue a Certificate of Registration or refuse the application and notify the applicant,” they noted.

“Once an application is approved and a Certificate of Registration granted, the applicant will be issued with log in credentials to gain access to either the Supplier Registration Portal or the Employment Portal,” the Ministry further explained.

It was noted that the Local Content Secretariat will communicate available procurement and employment opportunities to registered Guyanese suppliers and those seeking employment, respectively. This, they noted, will be done through the respective portals.

According to the Local Content Act passed last year, oil and gas companies operating in Guyana, as well their contractors and sub-contractors must procure from Guyanese companies by the end of 2022, 90 per cent of office space rental and accommodation services; 90 per cent janitorial services, laundry and catering services; 95 per cent pest control services; 100 per cent local insurance services; 75 per cent local supply of food; and 90 per cent local accounting services. These are just some of the 40 different services outlined in the first schedule.

Previously, a portal for registering locals existed in the Centre for Local Business Development (CLBD). As of last year, it had been reported that CLBD had over 2700 local businesses registered in its database.

The CLBD was set up in 2017 by ExxonMobil, in collaboration with DAI Global, LLC, to assist small and medium-sized local businesses to build their capacity and their ability to compete to offer services in the oil and gas sector and other industries.

When it was set up, the Centre was expected to focus on developing local vendors that serve key sectors of the oil and gas industry, including areas such as safety equipment, marine operations, offshore supply and civil construction. It was also supposed to provide mentoring, coaching, and access to financial support.