In the strongest signal yet, the Government of Trinidad and Tobago has clarified that there is no aggressive intent at that level to challenge Guyana’s Local Content Laws.
But the Twin Island’s Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley has not ruled out seeking legal interpretations through the court on whether the recently passed legislation infringes on the Treaty of Chaguaramas and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Single Market and Economy (CSME).
During a joint press conference at State House in Georgetown on Sunday and speaking in political terms Dr. Rowley said his administration hadn’t plans to put Guyana’s objective under a litmus test although some private sector actors in that country have claimed that the legislation locks out regional companies looking to participate in the sector.
Guyana and T&T also signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Sunday, which addresses cooperation in the energy sector. Dr. Rowley has said that from that standpoint, there is no need to view the law from a negative lens.
“We do intend to rely on the cooperation that is written and embodied in the MoU,” Dr. Rowley said.
The T&T PM said the aim at this point is to understand what Guyana is trying to do even as President Irfaan Ali clarified that the law is not to lock anyone out but to ensure Guyanese participate.
Dr. Ali said the results of the provisions in the law are what should guide any interpretation.
Dr. Rowley also noted that in understanding Guyana’s intentions the Treaty of Chaguaramas cannot be ignored and reasoned that any attempt to seek legal interpretations should not be frowned upon.
“There is no need to get at each other’s throat and misrepresent intentions and create a negative environment.
“I believe the Treaty of Chaguaramas is sufficiently robust to deal with these matters and if interpretations in the Court of Law are required then that is normal in these circumstances,” Dr. Rowley explained.
Notwithstanding this position, the T&T PM said he was not in support of individuals going off on a frolic of their own in an attempt to control the narrative, something he said can amount to “nothingness for us.”
“As they say in Trinidad, not every skin teeth is a laugh and those of us in leadership must listen to everyone and be guided in the best interest of the wider pullulation,” he added.
Dr. Ali insisted that in time, people would realise that the law is set up to bring businesses closer together even as he attested to the marrying of business models in an environment that was created to ensure a win-win situation.
“For me, it is not you against us or me against you. If you approach life to be a soul winner, in the end, you’ll be the loser,” Dr. Ali stated.
Some Trinidadian businesses have already said that the law was helping to expand their business reach and provides a delicate balance between the operations of local and foreign companies in Guyana.
The First Schedule of the law sets 40 areas – from transportation to legal services – under which Guyanese companies should be used, detailing the percentage requirement by the end of 2022.
Because of the provisions of the local content law, joint ventures have become increasingly important in helping foreign companies participate in the local sector while simultaneously building Guyanese competency.