Guyana’s new Local Content law is viewed as a crucial tool to help Guyanese companies benefit from the new oil and gas industry but it has also been delicately crafted to allow foreign companies to meaningfully participate in continued commercial activity here.
This is the position of Timothy Tucker, the Head of the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI). This local private sector body was integrally involved in advocacy efforts for this legislation.
But now, the Head of the CARICOM Private Sector Organisation (CPSO) Gervase Warner, who is also the President and Group Chief Executive Officer of the Trinidad and Tobago conglomerate Massy, has raised concerns that Guyana’s law may violate the revised Treaty of Chaguaramas.
This treaty is the central treaty of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), of which Guyana is a member state.
And the revised treaty led to the creation of the Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME), an ambitious initiative that is expected to facilitate economic integration and the movement of goods, services and capital throughout the CARICOM without tariffs or other restrictions.
Tucker, who expressed his disagreement with Warner’s concerns, does not believe that there should be concerns about Guyana’s new law.
“You have to look at it in its totality,” Tucker said during a telephone interview with the News Room on Thursday.
He said that the First Schedule of the Local Content law sets out 40 areas- from transportation to legal services- under which Guyanese companies should be used, detailing the percentage requirement by the end of 2022.
But, he explained that there are several other areas that foreign companies can still meaningfully participate in. The News Room understands that there are about 200 services that are required within the oil and gas sector.
And so, Tucker posited, “We didn’t think that it was so harsh that it warrants this level of rejection.”
Asked if the GCCI and the wider Guyanese private sector intends on engaging CPSO to resolve the concerns raised instead of allowing the issue to head into the courts, Tucker remarked that the local private sector body would have to first consult with its membership.
Meanwhile, in an invited comment, Guyana’s Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs Anil Nandlall said that the government would soon be addressing the concerns raised.
During the debates held before the passage of the Local Content legislation, Nandlall gave assurances on behalf of the government that should any concerns arise about the law violating any Treaties, the government would deal with those.