By Kiana Wilburg
The Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) is worried about an Energy Agreement that the Government is poised to sign with Trinidad and Tobago (T&T)’s Prime Minister, Dr. Keith Rowley.
Even if the CARICOM member does not get to refine Guyana’s oil, the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) is expected to pave the way for T&T firms to participate in Guyana’s oil sector.
But the Chamber wants the government to put a hold on this signing until it can make the document public. According to GCCI’s President, Deodat Indar, the Chamber is not “anti-T&T” but it needs to see if the agreement will have dire consequences for the private sector.
At a press conference yesterday, Indar said, “We have signed MOUs with lots of nations, but in specific ways, ways in which we can learn from them and get transfer of skills. This Energy Agreement with T&T is different. We don’t know the language in this MOU…I am asking the government to put a hold on it before it hurts the private sector…”
The GCCI President added, “We want to see it before anything is signed. This would be breaking the dam and opening the floodgates…I am not anti anything, but I have an obligation to protect my people…”
Expressing similar comments was Chairman of GCCI’s Trade and Investment Committee, Timothy Tucker. He said that while they are not against T&T businesses investing in Guyana, there needs to be an improvement in trade relations.
Tucker said that for some time, T&T has been using antiquated laws to frustrate trade relations Guyana has with other nations, since it depends on T&T as a transshipment point.
In this regard, he recalled that T&T in 2015 used its 1935 laws to seize a shipment of honey that was in transit from Guyana to a Leeward Island. According to T&T’s laws, honey produced outside of T&T should not be within 100 metres of its shores.
Tucker said, “Lots of items are transshipped through T&T, but they used an old law to protect their industry. They promised they would make the necessary amendments before the year is out and they have not lifted a finger. Now we have the government of Guyana that is willing to sign this agreement without considering the implications for us.”
The GCCI Chairman added, “We are not blocking them or saying they can’t come here to invest, but open your doors so we can come to your shores and supply you with our products as well…There must be a fair exchange.”
Considering the circumstances, Indar and Tucker reiterated that the nation deserves to know the contents of the MOU.
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