Sunday, October 2, 2022

City Chamber says ‘rent-a-citizen’ tactics run counter to local content law

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The Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) says disapproves “rent-a-citizen” and “fronting” tactics potentially being used by companies operating in Guyana’s oil and gas sector, because such tactics run counter to the spirit of Guyana’s local content legislation. 

In a statement Thursday, the Chamber said it has noted public discourse regarding local content, and used the opportunity to express its disdain for these tactics which exploit Guyana’s local content laws and ultimately stifles the benefits Guyana receives. It outlined that while it is supportive of the Government’s efforts to promote local content and benefits for Guyanese, “local participation” must entail the benefits going to Guyanese business owners and the country itself, and that it wishes to “repudiate any enterprise or citizen that seeks to exploit the local content framework by operating under the guise of local participation when this is not, in fact, the reality of the operation.”

According to the organisation, “this phenomenon – commonly referred to as ‘fronting’ or ‘rent-a-citizen’ – has the potential to reduce the amount of value which accrues to Guyana and runs counter to the spirit and intent of the Local Content Act.”

Notably, the Chamber’s statement comes during a public discord between RAMPS Logistics and the Local Content Secretariat after the Trinidad-based company was denied a Local Content certificate. Ramps claimed that the certificate was denied despite all requirements being followed. 

Ramps held a press conference on Thursday morning, during which chief executive, Shaun Rampersad said legal action could the recourse eventually taken by the company. 

But the government has been commended by various parties for upholding and preventing circumvention of the local content law. This includes the Private Sector Commission which said it fully supports the government taking strong action against entities attempting to skirt the law.

The GCCI has since urged the Secretariat to examine the “beneficial ownership” of companies seeking to obtain Local Content certificates and also recommended that “burden of proof” regarding beneficial ownership is in the possession of the company applying for the certificate. The Chamber believes such vetting will act as a layer of protection against those seeking to operate in this “unethical and unpatriotic manner”.

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