C’bbean private sector body adamant in taking up Guyana’s Local Content laws with CARICOM

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The CARICOM Private Sector Organisation (CPSO), which has been facing a barrage of criticisms from local private sector players, is intent on engaging CARICOM and the Guyana’s government on the recently enacted Local Content law.

This engagement, the body said in a press release issued on Thursday night, is crucial in garnering “pro-CARICOM outcomes.”

This press release was issued less than 24 hours after the News Room reported that the CPSO Chairman Gervase Warner raised concerns that Guyana’s new Local Content law may violate free trade provisions of the CARICOM’s entral treaty, the Treaty of Chaguaramas.

According to the release, these concerns about Guyana’s new law did not just emanate from Warner but it was one of several matters raised in the CPSO’s Executive Committee Meeting, held on January 11.

“That discussion highlighted the concerns of the CPSO Executive Committee Members that the Local Content Act appeared to contravene various provisions of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas (RTC),” the press release noted.

Importantly, however, members of Guyana’s private sector have strongly defended Guyana’s Local Content law, emphasising that it is 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.

In response to the barrage of criticisms, the CPSO said that it does not claim to be the “arbiters of right and wrong on matters which appear to subtract from the settled rights emanating from the RTC.”

But, the CPSO also noted that it has been tasked with raising issues and seeking consultations and possible resolutions on matters pertaining to the full implementation of the CSME.

For context, the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas led to the creation of the Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME). The CSME is 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.

But, fully implementing the CSME has been hindered by the policies and laws of some CARICOM Member States, especially Trinidad and Tobago.

Earlier on Thursday, the News Room reported that President of the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) Timothy Tucker highlighted that Guyana has been plagued by several violations of the CSME over the years and he raised his own concerns about the apparent double-standards of the CPSO.

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