Sunday, February 5, 2023

Ramps’ challenges in Guyana not linked to private sector; umbrella body condemns “dark forces” comment

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As the Ramps Logistics’ Local Content spat continues, Guyana’s private sector body has come out to condemn recent statements by its Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Shaun Rampersad.

He had made the suggestion that dark forces from Guyana’s private sector “want [him] out” of the country.

The Private Sector Commission (PSC) however on October 26 refuted the comments as “totally misguided and completely out of place.”

“We have noted with considerable concern, [the] statement,” the PSC said, adding that the comments have no basis in fact or reality.

Rampersad is quoted in Trinidad’s Sunday Guardian as saying: “I think Guyana is a lovely place and there is enlightened leadership with the present Government of Irfaan Ali. But there are powerful dark forces in the private sector. I suspect what we are going through has to do with elements of the Guyanese private sector who have for a long time controlled the Guyanese business economy, and they don’t want us in Guyana. I want investors to know there are great opportunities in Guyana, but they have to be careful.”

For context, Rampersad is referring to challenges being faced by Ramps in its application for a local content certificate. It has also been slapped with 10 charges for false customs declarations related to its operations.

The PSC, headed by Paul Cheong, said that the challenges being faced by Ramps Logistics have no linkage to the local private sector. It said the private sector has an obligation to comply with Guyana’s laws and has no control over the Local Content Secretariat, the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) or any compliance agency with regards to meeting the Local Content requirements to operate in Guyana’s oil sector.

“As the umbrella Private Sector body, the PSC has been welcoming to investors from CARICOM member countries and international countries,” the body said. “In fact, the Commission and its members have hosted Trade Missions from Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica, and the United States among others. We are open to meeting with any Private Sector company to foster business growth and national development.”

The PSC noted that it has advocated and fought for Local Content legislation to protect the interest of local businesses. At the same time, it registered its cognizance that Guyana does not possess all the skills and resources required, and therefore, advocates for partnerships and joint ventures with investors from various countries for Guyana’s development.

Ramps is currently in court with the Local Content Secretariat, for a judicial review, in its bid to get a Local Content Certificate. Pending the outcome of the charges against Ramps from the customs regulator, the Local Content Secretariat halted its review of Ramps’ current application.

The company said in a filing to the Court that if it does not get the Local Content Certificate, it is at risk of losing a US$25 million contract from ExxonMobil and could be placed in a position to render 100 of its workers redundant.

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