By Kiana Wilburg
Any Local Content Policy Guyana pursues should have several key provisions, particularly one that ensures all international suppliers are made to have a local partner.
This was noted in a report that was written by Anthony Paul, Principal Consultant of the Association of Caribbean Energy Specialists Ltd. The Local Content Expert prepared the document on the request of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). It was handed over to the Government since 2016.
Paul said that Guyana’s Local Content Policy should also ensure that international suppliers include in their programme of work, a plan to transfer skills to locals.
In addition, Paul noted since 2016, that Guyana’s policy should be premised on an analysis of the country’s current supply base, including skills and companies, as well as training institutions. The Local Content Expert said that the development of the policy should see the involvement of trade unions, private sector bodies and training institutions.
The Chatham House Advisor said, too, that it is in Guyana’s best interest to have a policy which demands that foreign companies collaborate with locals to get maximum local content impact. In this regard, he cautioned that there be improved management of work permits being granted to foreign companies as the absence of this can undermine local content efforts.
Further, the Trinidadian advised in his report that Guyana needs a regulator to oversee local content. He said that this could be done by an authority through a legislative instrument.
For the last four years, the government has been working on producing a Local Content Policy but to date, the final draft is yet to make its way into the public domain for consultations.
The first two drafts were done by Paul but in February, Director General of the Ministry of the Presidency, Joseph Harmon, announced that Oil Consultant, Dr. Michael Warner, was hired to complete the policy.
The cost of that contract was $22M. Kaieteur News had confirmed with former Business Minister, Dominic Gaskin, that this contract was never advertised.
Kaieteur News had also raised several questions about Dr. Warner’s connection to ExxonMobil; the firm which brought him to Guyana in the first place to teach local businesses trying to access the supply chain, about the requirements and standards of procurement in the oil sector.
Dr. Warner was actually a fixture at Exxon’s Centre for Local Business Development on South Road for this matter.
But instead of facing Kaieteur News, the Ministry of the Presidency released a video recording of the Head of the Energy Department, Dr. Mark Bynoe speaking on selectively issues related to the contract.
Dr. Bynoe had said that there are several procurement processes, which can be used to expedite the award of a contract. He said that the one used for the $22M Local Content Policy Contract is called a limited competitive selection of individual consultants.
He said this is consistent with the World Bank’s regulations of July 2016, which was revised in November 2017 and further in August 2018.
Further, the Energy Department Head said that this process allowed for the use of a three CV process and the subsequent assessment of the consultants based on their expertise and qualifications as well as their ability to deliver.
After this assessment, Dr. Bynoe said an evaluation report would have been completed and sent to the World Bank for its no-objection. Based on that, Dr. Warner who has no track record of independently producing a local content policy for a country was selected as the “best candidate” to execute the consultancy.
In spite of the answers provided, Dr. Bynoe failed to say who were the other two individuals given the invite to submit proposals for the tender, who recommended the individuals, what criteria were used to determine their ability to deliver, what level of due diligence was conducted on the invited consultants beyond the mere scrutiny of their work resume, and why three, and not all individuals familiar with providing such services to Guyana, were invited to submit proposals.
To date, neither Dr. Bynoe nor anyone in the Energy Department has explained the status of the draft policy and when it is expected to be ready for consultations.
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