The CARICOM Private Sector Organisation (CPSO), a body characterised as the region’s apex private sector institution, has been accused of double standards now that its President has raised concerns about Guyana’s new Local Content law.
CPSO is headed by Gervase Warner, who is also the President and Group Chief Executive Officer of the Trinidad and Tobago conglomerate Massy.
President of the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) Timothy Tucker told the News Room on Tuesday that the CPSO does not appear to represent the “real voice” of regional private sector bodies.
Instead, he said, “It is handpicked from the biggest companies around the region.”
Now that the organisation is raising concerns about Guyana’s new Local Content law possibly violating CARICOM’s revised Treaty of Chaguaramas, Tucker raised his own concerns about the apparent double standards of the CPSO.
According to him, there have been several clear violations of the Treaty over the years – many from Trinidad and Tobago.
An example of this has been the trade of honey. Guyana is unable to transship honey exports through the Twin Island republic because of a decades-old law that prohibits the movement of the product within one mile of the island’s shores.
In 2015, Trinidad and Tobago fined Guyanese shipping company Laparkan for transporting honey in its waters.
“…. you can view that it breaches the Treaty as well,” Tucker said.
He later added, “We have a number of violations by Trinidad and downright refusal to even adhere to the rulings of COTED.”
COTED is the CARICOM Council for Trade and Economic Development that directly deals with matters of intra-regional trade, including the elimination of trade barriers.
According to an email written by Warner and seen by the News Room, the CPSO believes that Guyana’s new local content law violates CARICOM’s free trade rules.
Tucker does not believe that Guyana’s new Local Content law violates CARICOM’s free trade rules, noting that it still allows for foreign companies to meaningfully participate in Guyana’s oil and gas industry.
Still, the GCCI Head said that all other violations should be sorted before Guyana even considers revising its local content legislation