Even though it regards the current revised draft Local Content Policy as a vast improvement over the previous version, the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI), one of the key groups representing business in Guyana, still believes there are some key areas which need to be addressed. Chief among these is the very definition of what constitutes a local business says Senior Vice President of the Chamber, Timothy Tucker.
During his first appearance on local radio show, Guyana’s Oil and You, Tucker, who observers believe is likely to emerge as the new GCCI President at the Chamber’s upcoming 131st AGM, said there needs to be an airtight definition in the final document of what constitutes a local business so that Guyanese are not used as mere “window dressing.”
Tucker said, “We need to have a real test of locality. We don’t want (foreign) companies coming and renting citizens. You could probably end up with people just sitting back and because their name is there on the front of the building, you assume it is local content.”
He added, “Let’s take Timothy Tucker Oil for example and let’s say I own 51 percent and my foreign partner owns 49 percent but a separate agreement that the government doesn’t know about allows my partner to get 95 percent of the profits while I simply collect a retainer.” In such a case, Tucker noted that Guyanese would not have real participation in the sector or reap the maximum benefit.
The Senior VP said Guyana has to make sure that this situation is avoided and that the oil money is staying in-country. Tucker saw this as a critical point to note as he stated that it is already happening in some aspects of the industry.
Along with the tightening of definitions, Tucker posited that the 111 services being proposed in the draft document for Guyanese to have maximum participation, need to be unbundled. In this regard, he noted that categories in Section 7 of the draft document such as marine operations and logistical services which are combined, would be better off separated.
Tucker said too that the terminology of some of the services such as welding need to be more specific so that Guyanese can know what exactly is needed in the sector.
“At the moment, the local private sector, we really and truly don’t know all the opportunities in the oil and gas sector…I have served as Junior and Senior Vice President and I cannot tell you all the opportunities in the sector. We are new to this…” the GCCI official stated. Going forward, Tucker strongly advocated for this type of information to be more readily available to Guyanese.