By Kiana Wilburg
It is not enough for a business to be considered “local” by mere registration. According to President of the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI), Deodat Indar, stiffer requirements are needed.
In addition to being registered here, Indar said that a business must be 51 percent owned by a Guyanese, 70 percent of the workforce must be Guyanese, its headquarters should be in Guyana, and board meetings should also be held here in order to be considered local.
The GCCI President made these and other comments at a press conference yesterday which was held at the entity’s Waterloo Street office. There, Indar said that there is an urgent need for clearly defined rules on what makes a company “local” so as to avoid abuse by foreign companies.
He also pointed to the fact that the Companies Act and the Income Tax Act do not add much clarity on what qualifies as a local company. He pointed out that the Income Tax Act only speaks to a firm being registered here. Indar stressed that this is outdated, given the needs of the oil and gas sector.
The GCCI President said, “We want Guyanese to have first consideration in the procurement of goods and services. We hope that the government hears our cry…”
GCCI SUBMITS DRAFT LEGISLATION
Disappointed with the state of affairs, Indar also revealed that the Chamber has submitted to the government, and even the political opposition, its draft legislation for local content. He said that the draft document was sent to President David Granger; Attorney General, Basil Williams; Business Minister, Dominic Gaskin; and Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo.
Indar said, “We are at a point now where we have to draft our own legislation. That is how much this means to us. These things are needed, because everyone is coming here, and we need to put things in place to ensure we are given a fair chance.”
He continued, “We are not happy that there is no policy, law or fiscal rule in place, and there is need for a level of protection for Guyanese companies. Foreign companies which have the inside track with the oil companies and subcontractors are getting the contracts. Down to the food and water is coming from overseas…It seems like our call is falling on deaf ears, and we are not going to take this anymore.”
After months of being quiet, the businessman said he is going to amplify the fight for local content as long as he is President of the Chamber.
He said, too, that the Chamber has sent the government its take on the second draft of the local content policy which was prepared by Local Content Expert, Anthony Paul.
Indar said that three and a half years have gone by and Guyana has no local content policy in place. Indar said that this is unacceptable
“We have had a lot of consultations and everyone is getting to have a say in it. Yes, consultation is good, but we need to get this thing finalized. Adopt a policy quickly and have something enforced…We must draw the line at some point. Let us put a review date on it and get on with it so we have something now.”
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