Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago Dr Keith Rowley has expressed disappointment with sections of the Guyanese business community for expressing concerns of a potential Trinidadian takeover of the oil and gas industry in the South American country.
The PM made his disappointment clear during a press conference today at State House following the signing of an energy cooperation Memorandum of Understanding. Responding to a question raised by the media about a fear of a Trinidad takeover, Dr Rowley said, “for me that is disappointing because we are working towards ensuring that we as a people, not just a people of Trinidad and Tobago, but a people of CARICOM, do better for all ourselves and to come up against that, is disappointing.”
The Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) had expressed concern regarding the signing of the MOU without a local content policy being in place.
Rowley however dismissed the idea that there will be a takeover by Trinidad companies of the Guyana oil sector. “It [the MOU] is simply the participation of a good neighbor working with those who have a need for our presence, maybe our finance, our entrepreneurial skills. As long as Guyana remains a friendly neighbor to us and we remain a friendly neighbor to Guyana, it is our expectation that any and all investment in Trinidad and Tobago from Guyana or vice-versa would be something that would be welcomed and that would be encouraged,” he said.
Dr Rowley said that his disappointment is not driven by any intention on his part to “school anybody or to reproach anybody.” He said that he would be failing in his duties if he did not point out to anyone holding the “takeover” point of view that “we in Trinidad and Tobago are proud to have the record show that as a small developing country not being a member of the Paris Club Trinidad wrote off Guyana’s debt against international pressures.”
“And we are not holding that as any quid pro quo, we are treating that as circumstantial and we maintain our position that we are a friendly cooperating neighbor of Guyana,” he said.
President David Granger who co-hosted the press conference said that there is nothing in the MOU that seeks to harm the interest of one state or the other. “There is no sellout…there were some unjustified fears that Guyana is giving away the family jewels but that can’t be true. It is simply a means of collaborating. Trinidad is bringing years of experience not only in production but also in marketing, in gas, in oil spills, in dealing with multinational corporations and the MOU is a means of benefiting from Trinidad’s advice, experience and expertise that have been built up over a long period of time,” said President Granger. “So, the fears that there is some giveaway are completely unjustified,” he said.