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…rolls out month-long stakeholder consultation
By Lisa Hamilton
The Government has set out to establish a Local Content Policy that is driven by key stakeholders and the people of Guyana and meant to impact every sector in the country.
The policy sets out to meet Guyana’s immediate needs and is not limited to the oil and gas sector.
Efforts towards the development of this policy began on Monday with a Local Content Policy Stakeholder Consultation hosted at the Arthur Chung Conference Center (ACCC). The consultation will remain open for one month.
Present were President Irfaan Ali; Prime Minister, Mark Phillips; Vice President, Bharrat Jagdeo; Minister of Natural Resources, Vickram Bharrat and other Minister of Government.
Also invited to participate were representatives of the Private Sector Commission (PSC), the Guyana Manufacturing and Services Association (GMSA), the American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham), the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI), the Tourism and Hospitality Association of Guyana (THAG), regional chambers of commerce, international oil companies and sub-contractors within the petroleum sector,
Presenting the key address to the gathering, President Ali said that the commitment to host the stakeholder consultation was made by the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) during its elections campaign.
The intention is to develop a policy that is continuously evolving as Guyana develops. In further defining the pillars of the policy, President Ali said that it must be flexible, responsive, clear and able to serve as the framework that outlines local content responsibilities in the oil and gas and other sectors.
“Whilst the oil and gas sector would be one that would be critically targeted in the local content strategy, the local content strategy will cover every single sector of our development of a country,” President Ali said.
“I want you to understand the local content policy is set in the national development framework. It is not set in oil and gas, it is set in the national development framework of our country…our future is not only about oil and gas. Oil and gas give us that catalyst, that push to move the other sectors forward. So, we do not intend for this discussion to be narrowly positioned only on oil and gas.”
He underscored that this is why input through the consultation will come too from the banking sector, the insurance industry, the manufacturing sector, the industrial sector, human and resource sector and more.
However, he pointed out that local content is not meant to simply increase the amount of business opportunity coming to local companies but also to build the capacity of these companies towards becoming globally competitive.
The Government’s role in helping to achieve this includes building a strong macro-economic environment and improving the ease of doing business, the efficiency of Government institutions and legislation.
The President said: “We recognise that there is an existing gap but in recognizing that there is an existing gap, we have to put the systems in place to quickly bridge that gap. But, in the intervening period, while we are bridging this gap, we are saying that we also have to define a space for local business and local participation even while we bridge the gap.”
Furthermore, the President said that his Government’s aim is not to minimize foreign investment but have investors know that they have to commit to Guyana’s local content. As such, he urged representatives of the private sector present to form consortiums for maximized benefit from Guyana’s development.
“We have to be bold in making the investment, creating the environment and creating the opportunity for those businesses to be driven back to Guyana and remove the excuse that we don’t have the capacity and capability,” he stressed.
Also making remarks, Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo said that the Government remains vigilant and will create a policy that prevents oil companies from taking away business opportunities from local companies.
“Our people have to feel this prosperity, they have to be trained in the sector…we can’t just leave it to the good will of individuals,” he said.
After the PPP/C took office in 2020, Guyana’s Local Content Panel team was established. It is made up of Chairman, Shyam Nokta and members Carl Greenidge, Carville Duncan, Anthony Paul, Kevin Ramnarine and Floyd Haynes.
They have been tasked with conducting such consultations and reviews from which the country’s Local Content Policy will be formed.