If Guyanese are bypassed by oil companies for jobs and business opportunities in the burgeoning petroleum sector, then the government would be forced to change its policy on local content, says President of the South American country, Dr. Irfaan Ali.
The stern warning was delivered during the Head of State’s feature address at the opening of Saipem Guyana’s Offshore Construction Facility on Saturday.
There, Mr. Ali referenced the twin island Republic of Trinidad and Tobago as regards local content. He noted for example that outside investors are not allowed to own land locally, only citizens. The President pointed out that Guyana has an “open position”, in that there is no discrimination against potential investors. With this openness however, he was keen to note that Guyanese must be given opportunities to own the facilities and as well as a chance to invest in them. He alluded as well that there are some fundamental opportunities in the oil industry which should automatically go to Guyanese.
“Logistics, it is not scientific work [so] it should easily go to Guyanese,” the Head of State noted. “Do not tell me I need a foreign logistics firm to tell me how to do brokerage services or how to clear something at the airport or how to hire taxis and do rentals in the industry and then the very logistics companies will come here and do the work themselves.”
“It will not go down well…I am telling you openly, whether you are a subcontractor or not it will not go down well…you will push us to change our policy,” Mr. Ali warned.
The Head of State noted that the talk of investment is not only limited to the creation of jobs but the creation of generational wealth, and not just in the petroleum sector, but other sectors as well.
Further, Mr. Ali underscored that the resources garnered from the oil and gas sector must be used to develop and strengthen other aspects of the economy, whether it be agro-processing, mining, rentals among others.
To achieve this, the Head of State said the government will have to invest in the creation of opportunities for locals through education, training, and development. It would also include investments in small businesses along with land and home ownership.