Local Content law is ‘not a blanket’ guarantee for Guyanese businesses – Bharrat


The proposed Local Content law, which the government will table in the National Assembly Thursday, is not an automatic guarantee that local companies will get work in the oil and gas sector if they are not suited, Minister of Natural Resources Vickram Bharrat has said.

The law is intended to lay down rules to ensure that foreign companies use local goods and services in order to be able to operate in the country. But Bharrat said if local companies don’t shape up, they will be left out.

“We must recognise our shortcomings,” Bharrat said at an event Thursday night, saying that companies have to assess what they have now “and ensure that we develop that to truly benefit from the local content.”

“Because we cannot say that the oil and gas companies need to employ all the engineers from Guyana – because we do not have that capacity.

“We cannot say the oil and gas company (must) build the FPSO (oil ship) in Guyana… because we do not have that capacity,” he reasoned.

Minister of Natural Resources Vickram Bharrat

The minister was at the time delivering remarks at an event hosted by the Canada-Guyana Chamber of Commerce held at the Canadian High Commissioner’s residence in Georgetown.

He was keen to note that there is an evident lack of capacity in certain key areas in the oil and gas sector, and this, is a challenge “that must be recognised.”

Without building capacity, the minister pointed out that the local content law will be “a waste of time.”

He said the Local Content law “will not be a blanket” that mandates oil companies to solely use local products.

“Let us not look at the Local Content bill as a blanket that we will hide behind and say that the oil companies must buy from us because it is not.

“Let us be competitive. Even though there is local content legislation in place, let us put it to the oil companies that Guyanese businesses are competitive in both quality and price so it justifies them doing business with Guyanese and Guyanese companies,” Minister Bharrat contended.

On that note, he called for greater partnership in the private sector to encourage capacity building. He said too that the time has come for Guyanese businesses competing against each other to end.

“The oil and gas business is big money business… so if we go at it alone, more than likely we will not be able to compete regionally and internationally and this is why we need to come together,” he stated.

The government has consulted heavily with the private sector on the draft local content bill.

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