President says local content policy should be a ‘living one’ that sees wealth shared with all Guyanese
The government on Monday inched closer to the finalisation of a national local content policy for Guyana with the hosting of a National Stakeholder Consultation, bringing together leaders and representatives from the private and public sectors and other stakeholder bodies from across the country.
Headed by President Irfaan Ali, the consultation was held at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre (ACCC) where the government opened itself to receiving the input of all Guyanese.
As Dr. Ali explained, the policy must be a “living one” that offers “great clarity and is responsive to the needs of Guyana.”
The President told stakeholders that as the economy continues to grow and evolve so too must the policy continuously evolve.
In laying out his vision for how the local content policy must be formulated, Dr. Ali said that while it will address the oil and gas sector to a large extent, it must be a national policy that regulates local content across all sectors.
“Local content is not about oil and gas alone… this document must set the framework through which all sectors are engaged, not only oil and gas, and it must establish with great clarity the responsibility of every stakeholder, including the government, to local content,” Dr. Ali said.
The Head of State said his vision is to make Guyana globally competitive and believes the policy, once formulated properly, can help in this regard.
Leading the plenary session was Vice President, Bharrat Jagdeo who in brief comments said that the policy must be formulated to ensure that Guyanese see improvements in their lives through the sharing of prosperity.
He said a part of getting to the point of shared prosperity will see the government issuing new Petroleum Sharing Agreements for the remaining oil blocks.
Jagdeo said the current PSAs are stacked in favour of the oil and gas companies and while the government has taken a decision not to renegotiate, all future PSA will be done to ensure greater benefits for Guyanese.
At the same time, he said the local content policy and its requirements must not be done in any way that it becomes a disincentive to investors.
“There has to be enough remuneration for investors and to contribute to Guyanese and their development… oil companies must understand that they have to work differently in Guyana,” he added.
The government came in for commendations from Chairman of the Private Sector Commission, Nicholas Boyer, who also urged the government to look into matters relating to access to finance and long credit periods.
While the policy was welcomed by all stakeholders in the room, Head of the Guyana Oil and Gas Energy Chamber, Manniram Prashad was backed up by the PSC Chairman in pointing out that the policy definitely needed strengthening.
President of ExxonMobil Guyana Alistair Routledge welcomed what he said was a collaborative approach and said he looks forward to future engagements.
The government spent the afternoon receiving and welcoming recommendations from several organisations, including the University of Guyana, the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Centre for Local Business Development.
The local content panel put together by Dr. Ali and chaired by Shyam Nokta was also commended for the efforts in laying the groundwork.