Business groups applaud Guyana government for landmark local content bill

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The Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) and the Guyana Oil and Gas Energy Chamber (GOGEC) have welcomed Guyana’s hallmark Local Content Bill which was tabled in the National Assembly on Thursday.

Timothy Tucker, President of GCCI

The GCCI, in a statement, reinforced that the Bill is a representation of a “gold standard instrument in supporting private sector development” and will facilitate material benefit to the Guyanese private sector. The business chamber reminded too that since 2017, it has undertaken an expansive range of activities which it viewed as being necessary to aid in the general public’s understanding of local content, including but not limited to forums, seminars, webinars, policy briefs, extensive commentary, advocacy, drafting of model legislation and consultation sessions.

During the government’s consultations on the policy, the GCCI played an active participant and expressed its “pleasure” to see that key areas, where local capacity exists, have been ring-fenced for Guyanese enterprises.

“The Chamber is especially pleased with the Bill’s establishment of two key institutions – the Local Content Secretariat and the Inter-Agency Advisory Committee. These two institutions engender the dynamism which such a Bill ought to encapsulate. This will ensure that the private sector continues to benefit from this legislation long into the future,” the GCCI said.

Meanwhile, GOGEC underscored the importance of balancing maximum local content for Guyanese while at the same time encouraging friendly foreign investment.

GOGEC stated too that local content must be realistic and practical. On the other hand, it said, where local capacity can be developed rapidly, maximum local content should be encouraged.

Manniram Prashad, President of GOGEC

“Previously,” GOGEC said, “there were three draft local content policies of which the latest version was designed for the upstream sector – ignoring altogether that the true benefit for the locals is in the midstream sector or the wider value chain onshore. Therefore, the spirit of a true and genuine local content was lacking.”

Overall, GOGEC commended the government on this front, particularly the administration’s appreciation for the need to have that balance between local content and foreign direct investment.

Going forward, the GCCI expressed its anticipation of further improvements and reforms to both the institutional and legislative framework necessary to support the country’s development including the establishment of the Petroleum Commission.

OilNOW reported this week that the Government of Guyana is proposing to have local companies and citizens participate in no less than 40 critical areas in the oil sector as opposed to the previously recommended 153 categories.

In the Local Content Bill 2021 that was tabled on Thursday by Natural Resources Minister, Vickram Bharrat, the areas that were listed for 100 per cent local content participation by 2022 are: transportation, visa and work permit applications, immigration support services, and customs brokerage services.

Those areas with a requirement for 90 per cent participation by Guyanese include rental of office space, accommodation services (apartments and houses), janitorial and laundry services, catering, laydown yard facility, and legal services amongst a slew of others.

Further, the historic 2021 Bill has outlined several penalties for persons who are found to be in breach of its provisions. The Bill notes that a person who carries out petroleum operations without the minimum local content requirement commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine of GY$50 million dollars (US$250,000).

If that person submits or causes to be submitted, any information for the issuance of a certificate of qualification knowing, or ought reasonably to know, that the information is false or misleading, commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine of GY$10 million dollars (US$50,000).

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