By Kiana Wilburg
Regardless of how rigorous and ideal some laws or policies may be, if there is no person or body to ensure implantation then it would all be for nothing. The same concept applies to Guyana’s Local Content Policy.
According to Chatham House Oil and Gas Advisor, Anthony Paul, a regulatory body must be in place to ensure there is substantial use of local goods and services.
In a recent interview with Kaieteur News, the Chatham House Advisor said that the draft Local Content Policy makes provision for this salient recommendation. Paul said that the Policy Framework identifies the need for monitoring, evaluation and reporting when it comes to implementation of Guyana’s Local Content Policy. Paul reiterated that a regulator will have to be responsible for this.
The Oil and Gas expert stated that there are different models which are in use with varying degrees of effectiveness.
The Chatham House Advisor said that in Ghana, by regulations, the Petroleum Commission is the responsible regulator. He said that the Petroleum Commission has instituted guidelines and procedures for reporting.
He noted that the regulations include targets which are to be achieved. He also revealed that the Commission has a dedicated local content team and work systems that cross different departments.
In the case of Nigeria, Paul noted that a specific agency, The Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board) NCDMB), was established by legislation for managing Nigerian Content. Paul said that the NCDMB has dedicated teams and has been very effective in transforming the local content landscape in Nigeria.
Closer to home, Paul said that the Ministry of Energy and Energy Industries in Trinidad and Tobago is responsible for all aspects of regulating the industry, other than fiscal and environmental.
Paul said that Trinidad and Tobago has some strong regulations requiring local capacity development and local content and for reporting and monitoring performance, but these have not always been robustly applied.
He said that the MEEI does not have dedicated Local Content Personnel, but it has established a multi-stakeholder Permanent Local Content Committee, to oversee implementation of its 2004 Local Content Policy which is aligned with the provisions of the Petroleum Regulations.
The Oil and Gas expert said, “There is an old saying, ‘what gets measured, gets done.’ So it makes sense that Guyanese are made aware of the progress of the policy by having a responsible agency report on measurable outcomes.”
The Advisor said that unless that agency is somehow empowered to effectively undertake its responsibilities and held accountable to stakeholders, there is no guarantee that monitoring and reporting will be adequately conducted or that the potential benefits will be achieved.
The “substantial” use of local goods and services by oil operators is just one of the many meaningful features one can expect to see when the nation’s draft Local Content Policy is released once more for consultations.
Paul reminded that the first draft of the Local Content Policy Framework was posted on the Ministry of Natural Resource’s website and shared with a range of stakeholders for feedback.
Several stakeholders provided written comments.
The Oil and Gas expert shared that last year, a series of public and private engagements were held with stakeholders in Georgetown, Berbice, Linden and Essequibo.
Paul said that based on feedback from those sessions, the policy draft has been amended and a second draft is being considered by the Ministry of Natural Resources.
He said that some of the meaningful changes include an extended introduction and narrative, intended to provide more context and explanation/education to those unfamiliar with the industry; definitions, including of local individuals and firms and local content; a strategy for implementing the policy; and an approach to developing an implementation plan, inclusive of public education.
The Oil and Gas advisor said that the Ministry is advanced in its review of the updated draft and should be releasing a final version shortly after the appropriate approvals.
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