Tucker blasts Trinidad’s discrimination against Guyana

--says APNU+AFC Gov’t encouraged it

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A national conversation on the usefulness of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and how Guyana has managed to benefit in recent decades has been revived with support both for and against a possible opting out of the regional body by Guyana.

The debate is linked to Guyana’s recently passed local content laws amid concerns that it shuts out regional citizens from participating in the local oil and gas sector and infringes on Guyana’s obligations under the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas.

Some have said that if that is the case, Guyana should leave CARICOM – a contention that was supported publicly by attorney and Government Member of Parliament Sanjeev Datadin.

He warned that the treaty obligations seem to allow for a hostile and uncontrollable takeover of the country’s booming oil sector.

The CARICOM Private Sector Organisation (CPSO) has also threatened to challenge Guyana’s Local Content Act.

Former Foreign Affairs Minister Carl Greenidge in recent comments reported in sections of the media on Tuesday cautioned that it could be dangerous if Guyana goes the route of exiting CARICOM.

But President of the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) Timothy Tucker, who supports Datadin’s position, responded via his Facebook page to Greenidge.

His first contention is that the former minister – now Advisor on Borders – must take some of the blame for the ‘opt-out position’. Tucker argued that Guyanese suffered from discrimination, ill-treatment, rejection of goods and services by CARICOM member states.

Tucker recalled that in 2018, the GCCI told the then APNU+AFC government not to sign an energy agreement with Trinidad and Tobago until the Twin Island Republic removed all non-tariff barriers to trade with Guyana.

He said it was Greenidge who told the GCCI that Guyana “owed Trinidad” and the government will go ahead and sign the agreement “all because Trinidad had loaned Guyana $96 million in the 1980s.”

Tucker said Guyanese have paid that back 10 times over, noting that the biggest burden of the loan was the interest which was subsequently written off.

“Note Guyana has been classified as a disadvantaged country within the context of CARICOM and was to be treated similarly to the OECS (Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States).”

Tucker argues that the issues are beyond the Local Content Act.

“It is how Guyana, Guyanese citizens and Guyanese businesses have been treated within CARICOM and especially by Trinidad. It is also how Trinidad, as a country, has manipulated CARICOM and taken advantage of the entire region and nothing can be done about it, it is how the business community sit in the room and see multiple Guyanese Governments try to obey the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas and multiple CARICOM member states break the rules set out by COTED.

“Disregard decisions of CARICOM when it goes against the interest of their country’s business community and it’s the non-action, the high place diplomacy (that no one else in the room understands), the unwillingness to slam their hands on the table and say Guyana, Guyanese and the Guyanese private sector will not take this anymore, that has led us to where we are today,” Tucker said.

In a recent invited comment, President Irfaan Ali told the News Room that there was no rift between Guyana and Trinidad either at the government or private sector level.

“Look at the business community that is participating in Guyana- a lot of Trinidad private sector people are investing here, (there is) strong collaboration between countries,” Dr. Ali said.

The President posited that Trinidad and Tobago is “an active part” of the government and private sector-led efforts at developing the nascent oil and gas sector.

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