President of the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI), Deodat Indar, says a number of foreign companies have been registering in Guyana and bidding for contracts with no input from the local business community.
He told reporters at a press conference held at GCCI, in Guyana’s Capital, Georgetown, on Friday that this is a worrying trend and reinforces the need for legislation to govern how foreign companies operate in the context of local content.
“There are businesses that are registered here – and I will tell you this from fact – the law firms in this country; most of them, saw an influx of new registration of businesses from foreign companies. They did not come and meet a company in Guyana and say look; you are good at catering and I am good at catering, could I come and maybe we can work on an arrangement where I can be your associate company and we can bid for the contract. No they did not do that. They came and set up their own companies here and they now are going to bid by themselves,” he said.
GCCI has been advocating for the establishment of a “buddying system” that makes it mandatory for foreign companies to enter into a formal arrangement with Guyanese companies in pursuit of business opportunities in the now oil-rich South American country.
“The buddying system that we are describing here…is that you come and either you do a JV (Joint Venture) or you do an associate arrangement or whatever arrangement you can see to partner with a local firm so that you can have skills transfer…,” he pointed out.
This, he said, can allow for training of trainers programmes, setting up of learning institutions for oil and gas and a range of other initiatives that would help Guyanese build capacity in this new industry.
GCCI has been calling for aspects of the draft local content policy framework set up by government with the help of a consultant to be legislated on what it describes as a “scalable form” thereby making it mandatory for Guyanese business and services to be utilized in the emerging industry.
“You can have the legislation in a scalable manner and parts of it implemented at different timing,” the GCCI president stated.
Guyana’s Minister of Natural Resources, Raphael Trotman, has said the first step in addressing the matter of local content is setting up a robust policy framework that could then guide the establishment of legislation if a decision is made to go in that direction.
“The Local Content Policy (LCP) will be developed over time and in tandem with the growth of the industry. At present, Regulations will not be promulgated, but may become necessary as the industry unfolds and expands, and impetus is needed to steer the process or to solidify gains,” he stated in the draft framework.
The draft local content policy framework has been under review by Guyana’s business community and stakeholders for several months and an updated version has since been completed and submitted to the Ministry of Natural Resources by the consultant.