By Kiana Wilburg
The final draft of Guyana’s Local Content Policy is proposing that oil companies provide detailed reports on their use of local goods and services to the Ministry of Business.
But those transparency advocates who wish to hold the government and the oil companies accountable in this regard could be stymied in their efforts since the draft policy states that those reports would not be made public.
According to the draft policy, which was perused by Kaieteur News, the Business Minister shall only disclose to the general public whether or not, Operators have submitted yearly Local Content Plans and half-year and end-year Local Content Reports.
It goes on to state, “To facilitate discussions leading to effective Local Content Plan implementation, the details of information submitted to the Minister in the Operator’s half-year and end-year Local Content Reports shall remain confidential to the Operator and Ministry.”
Further to this, the draft policy states that on an annual basis, the Minister shall prepare and submit to the Cabinet and Parliament, a report on the implementation of this policy and shall, for this purpose, set out information on several things.
These include the achievements of each operator in delivering the objectives and undertakings of their annual Local Content Plans, objectives that are yet to be attained by an operator and the Minister under this policy and the reasons for such observation, agreed strategies for corrective measures by operators and Ministry where objectives are yet to be attained, and recommendations for improvement.
Nowhere in the policy is there a sanction for those operators who continuously fail to improve their local content efforts.
The first two drafts of Guyana’s Local Content Policy were done by Paul but in February, last, Director General of the Ministry of the Presidency, Joseph Harmon, had 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 train local businesses trying to access the supply chain. 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 had released a video recording of the Head of the Energy Department, Dr. Mark Bynoe speaking selectively on issues related to the contract granted to Warner.
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.
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