Thursday, October 28, 2021

U.S. looking forward to finalised local content policy, wealth fund legislation – Ambassador Lynch

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The Government of the United States of America is looking forward to the finalisation of Guyana’s Local Content Policy, as well as amendments to the legislation on which the country’s Natural Resources Fund (NRF) has been established. This is according to U.S. Ambassador to Guyana, Sarah-Ann Lynch during her address to the American Chamber of Commerce and Industry Guyana’s (AMCHAM) webinar on ‘Rule of Law as a Foundation for Competitive Business Environment’ on October 13.

“The U.S. government also looks forward to a finalised Local Content Policy and amended Natural Resource Fund legislation that charts a clear, realistic path for Guyana, including its citizens, the local private sector, and international investors with knowledge to share,” the Ambassador stated.  These sentiments follow recent confirmation from both Guyana’s Minister of Natural Resources, Vickram Bharrat and Senior Petroleum Coordinator at the Ministry of Natural Resources, Bobby Gossai Jr., that the Guyana government will soon be tabling the Local Content Bill in the National Assembly.

Final Local Content Policy must ensure Guyanese are valid partners not mere “window dressing”- GCCI Senior VP

“The Local Content Policy should strike a balance between protecting Guyana’s human capital while also creating a welcoming atmosphere for international investors to spur innovation and diversify the economy,” the Ambassador said. She noted that, if done correctly, the Policy could serve as an incentive to form partnerships and joint ventures that enable both U.S. and Guyanese firms to share expertise, best practices, and profit together across many sectors. Coupled with investment from the Natural Resources Fund, she said the Local Content Policy can foster opportunities for all Guyanese and benefit the entire country.

“We encourage genuine stakeholder engagement in the development of these and all major government policies to embrace transparency, accountability, and due process,” Ambassador Lynch said.

Local Content Bill to be tabled soon, institutional arm being created – Gossai Jr.

The government, even before taking office, had contentions with the NRF legislation because it was passed in the National Assembly even after the then government had been defeated by a No Confidence Motion. The current Administration is also of the opinion that the legislation places too much power over Guyana’s oil revenues in the hands of the Minister of Finance. “The [President Irfaan] Ali government is very aware that without the right guardrails in place, unscrupulous officials and individuals could misappropriate the country’s oil wealth and direct it away from Guyanese citizens,” the Ambassador posited as she highlighted that in 2020, Guyana’s economy grew by over 40 percent, making it the world’s fastest growing economy and the only country in the Caribbean to register positive GDP growth.

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