– promises Business Minister
By: Kiana Wilburg
Local businesses can be assured that they will not be left out in the cold when it comes to the looming oil and gas sector. In fact, the Ministry of Business is working feverishly to ensure that these businesses will have access to many opportunities.
This was confirmed recently by Business Minister, Dominic Gaskin, while speaking of his Ministry’s role in the oil and gas sector.
Gaskin told Kaieteur News that the Ministry of Business’ role is primarily facilitative; whether it is to facilitate investors and or investments and improvements in doing business, specifically as it relates to streamlining processes that impact businesses through reforms.
“However, we have a strong interest in ensuring local businesses are not drowned out, that they develop capacity to meaningfully participate in the industry, whether directly or through spin-off activities (which are likely to be far greater than the direct activities related to the oil and gas industry); and that the more vulnerable category of business (micro and small enterprises) access these opportunities as well.”
To this end, Gaskin said that the Ministry of Business is certainly a key stakeholder in the development of the nation’s local content policy, the scope of which is broader than oil and gas. He insisted that the document is engaging the Ministry’s attention.
He said that the Ministry of Business has to ensure sustainable growth for local businesses.
“And so we have to identify areas where that will take place and to implement the corresponding policy interventions needed to encourage optimization of economic activities that are connected to this sector.”
LOCAL CONTENT POLICY
It is very likely that come year end, Guyana will have in place, a robust Local Content Policy for the oil and gas sector. This is according to the nation’s “optimistic” Natural Resources Minister, Raphael Trotman.
Trotman reminded that the Government has retained the services of world-renowned expert, Mr. Anthony Paul. The Leader of the Alliance For Change (AFC) noted that Paul was keen on completing and having distributed for consultation, the first draft policy.
Trotman expressed, “The idea for this is that we could not move to legislation without first having a policy. Legislation should follow policy rather than the reverse and so it was thought that we should craft the policy before 2020.”
The Parliamentarian added, “Paul, who was away for a few weeks, has returned and in September last, he held consultations with various members of the Private Sector along with others across the region. He has resubmitted another draft taking into consideration the new views and ideas shared by stakeholders.”
The Natural Resources Minister said that the “updated” draft is expected to be shared with the public soon. “And hopefully by the end of the year, we will have a national Local Content Policy that we can all sign on to.”
Be that as it may, Guyana’s draft local content policy has been criticized in recent months for lacking provisions which would safeguard against exploitation by companies.
The draft speaks nothing of how to avoid procurement fraud, conflict of interest and favouritism among other crucial areas.
Instead, the draft Local Content Policy framework seeks to address, the suite of opportunities that may arise and the approaches to be taken in selecting and developing opportunities related to enhancing the capabilities of Guyanese nationals and businesses.
The Policy articulates that this will be don’t through; training, development and employment initiatives (Capacity Development), ensuring availability of ownership participation for qualified Guyanese equity interest (Ownership Value), supplier development provisions for goods and services by locals to support sector operations (Local Content); and well-tailored social contributions for greater impact and benefits (Societal Benefits).
It also describes what will be done to ensure that the activities in the petroleum sector are conducted in a manner that transparently secures the maximum benefit for the people of Guyana, while recognizing the limitations of the country and holding all actors accountable to the present and future generations of Guyanese who are the owners of the nation’s petroleum resources.
Additionally, the draft policy recognizes that the petroleum resources of Guyana belong to all its citizens, and represent an asset of significant intrinsic value, which once removed diminishes the wealth of the nation, unless there is transformation in value from resources below the ground to improved quality of life above it for current and future generations of Guyanese.
The draft says, “Guyana will approach the development of its petroleum resources, people and businesses in a pragmatic, transparent and accountable manner. This will be conditioned by existing circumstances and an analytical approach to understanding the resource, the activities it engenders and our input capabilities. We shall pursue strategic opportunities for local capacity development and participation that give us the maximum possible benefit now and in the future.”
The Policy also states that Guyanese will participate in a manner that gives preferred access and opportunities to improve and enhance the country’s capabilities so that it can become internationally competitive and in the end, the country will progressively provide a greater amount of future services.
Capacity development, to enable more value retention, will be treated as an investment, rather than a cost, the policy outlines.
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