Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, Dr. Keith Rowley said there is no need for his government and Guyana’s to be at each other’s throats about Guyana’s new local content laws.
“What the government of Trinidad and Tobago tried to do is not to view it through negative lenses, but to understand what Guyana is trying to do,” Rowley explained. “And from that standpoint, we have not aggressively taken a position to put the Guyanese objective under a litmus test.”
He made the comments during a joint press conference with President Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali at State House, Georgetown, following the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for cooperation between the two countries.
What the T&T government will do, Rowley said, is rely heavily on the cooperation embodied in that agreement, which lists energy as one of the focus areas. He said Port of Spain understands that the governments’ shared intentions are codified in the Treaty of Chaguaramas, which establishes the framework for the Caribbean Community and Common Market (CARICOM).
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“We believe that the Treaty of Chaguaramas is sufficiently robust to deal with any of these matters and if interpretations in a court of law is required, that is normal in these matters.”
But through all this, Rowley expressed the hope that persons would not go off on a frolic of their own, misrepresenting the intentions of either side. He advised that the public should place focus on the value of narratives being carried, who are making the statements, and identify their agendas. As for he and his colleagues in leadership positions, Rowley said, “we have to listen to everybody and be guided by what is in the best interests of the wider population.”
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This is Rowley’s first public comment on the local content laws since the Guyana government enshrined its policy into law in December. The Local Content Act sets out quotas for companies to meet in the utilisation of local goods and services, evolving over time. Members of the T&T and Guyana private sectors have been at odds in recent months over the Act and, by extension, Trinidad’s local content policy.
Guyana’s Local Content Act places a strong emphasis on joint ventures, and so, the government has emphasized that the Act does not mean to lock foreigners out. Dr. Ali said that the implementation of the Act has been playing out well, and that persons should take the time to examine the industry to find out how strong relationships are being formed.