‘Can’t brush aside Guyanese hurt’- Trinidadian finds business in Guyana positive

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By Vishani Ragobeer

Vishani@newsroom.gy

Shaun Rampersad, the Head of the Trinidadian-owned Ramps Logistics, believes that Trinidadian businesses seeking to do business in Guyana must first recognise that many Guyanese are hurt because of mistreatment faced in the Twin-Island Republic.

This, he said, is an important part of the seemingly brewing rift in the Guyana/ Trinidad relations at both the government and private sector levels that has influenced efforts to do business in Guyana now.

“We have to be very clear about the things that we did not do well and we can’t just brush those under the carpet.

“… We have to be very cognisant of the fact of how Guyanese have been treated in Trinidad,” Rampersad said during a virtual discussion hosted on Wednesday night.

Rampersad, whose company has expanded operations to Guyana and is now a major player in the logistics sector, was asked to comment on recent statements made by Guyana’s Vice President Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo.

When asked if Guyana sees an opportunity to intensify collaboration with Trinidad and Tobago (T&T), Jagdeo told reporters at a recent press conference that the government was open to that, particularly with the intention of harnessing that country’s extensive experience in oil and gas.

The Vice President also emphasised that Guyana remains committed to partnerships within the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) – the regional bloc that both countries are founding members of. But Jagdeo said that the government would not allow its people to be treated in a “subservient way.”

Jagdeo also spoke about the mistreatment of Guyanese and Guyanese businesses faced in the sister CARICOM countries in years past.

These are all concerns Rampersad acknowledged.

“A lot of Trinidadians, they don’t take very seriously, I feel, how badly Guyanese have been treated in Trinidad for a long time.

“… Sometimes, it’s easy to get emotional but I think (Vice President) Jagdeo makes a very good point that we have to be cognisant of the way Guyanese feel and the way Guyanese feel they have been treated in Trinidad,” the businessman said.

He, however, posited that it hasn’t been all bad. In fact, he highlighted that many Guyanese have been able to reap the benefits of living and working in the Twin Island Republic.

The brewing conversation extends beyond the treatment of Guyanese alone.

It also includes talks on Guyana’s new local content law with concerns that this shuts out regional citizens from participating in the local oil and gas sector and infringes on Guyana’s obligations under the CARICOM’s central agreement – the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas.

President of the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) Timothy Tucker argued recently that Guyanese suffered from discrimination, ill-treatment, rejection of goods and services by CARICOM member states, especially Trinidad.

Though not commenting on Guyana’s local content legislation, Rampersad also believes that there are abundant business opportunities in Guyana. He even said that doing business here, in some cases, is easier than doing business in Trinidad.

“If you’re bright, smart and willing to work hard, you will find opportunities in Guyana,” the businessman said.

Because of the provisions of the local content laws, joint ventures have become increasingly important in helping foreign companies participate in the local sector while simultaneously developing Guyanese competency.

Ramps Logistics Guyana, the Guyanese major-owned entity of the Trinidadian company, has partnered with GK Logistics, a local company affiliated with the Roraima Group of Companies, in a bid to establish itself as a new logistics powerhouse in the Caribbean.

The joint venture partnership has led to the creation of Arapaima Logistics Incorporated. The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) establishing this new company was signed last month at the Roraima Duke Lodge in Kingston, Georgetown.

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