By Kemol King
A ‘Guyana Safety Forum’ purported to be for the development of local safety interests was dominated by firms native to Trinidad and Tobago. Now, it turns out that the host of that forum, the Energy Chamber of Trinidad and Tobago, neglected to invite any Guyanese business service organisations.
President of the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI), Nicholas Deygoo-Boyer addressed this matter in a release yesterday, stating that the local private sector was left out of the event.
It was also confirmed that the Private Sector Commission (PSC) was not engaged nor was it consulted for the hosting of this forum.
In a telephone interview with the Guyana Manufacturing and Services Association (GMSA)’s Clinton Williams, Kaieteur News was informed that he was not aware of that body being consulted either.
Kaieteur News understands that an advertisement was circulated, offering interested parties the opportunity to participate with a fee attached.
PSC Chair, Gerry Gouveia, spoke to this publication yesterday, positing that while the PSC welcomes business with its Trinidadian counterparts, it must be done in good faith and with mutual respect.
The blame for the blatant omission of vital local actors was not placed solely on the back of the T&T Chamber and its affiliates, but on Government too. Deygoo-Boyer stated that Government’s preceding outreach to T&T also neglected to include the participation of the local private sector.Former GCCI President and former PSC Vice Chair, Deodat Indar, told Kaieteur News that this neglect by the Trinidad Energy Chamber is total disrespect and that it flies in the face of the Guyanese private sector.
“Guyana is the host nation with its patrimony and we should be given first consideration for hosting any forum in Guyana when it comes to the oil and gas sector,” Indar said.
Chief Executive Officer of the Trinidadian Energy Chamber, Dr. Thackwray Driver, had said at the forum that Trinidadian companies are not coming to take over. Yet, there are concerns.
Noting Guyana’s long relationship with Trinidad and Tobago, Deygoo-Boyer welcomed the prospect of Trinidadian companies benefiting from the local energy sector, but he stressed that it must be on equal footing.
At this juncture, the Chamber’s President doesn’t see that to be a reality. The country has a lot more experience in the energy sector and, according to Deygoo-Boyer, access to larger sums of capital at lower rates.
“Therefore, they can pay higher prices for assets as they have a lower hurdle rate.”
He also raised concerns about issues like transfer pricing and the lack of a multiplier effect for revenue trickling out of the Guyanese economy.
Guyana, he posited, must work to encourage investment in Guyana from foreigners like T&T in a manner that mutually benefits both parties. He indicated that they will have to do a lot more, including obliging discourse with the local private sector, to prove its commitment to healthy investments here.
Guyana’s relationship with T&T and other interested foreign actors must be compounded by robust formal policies, including local content policy and legislation, policies around investment promotion and for strengthening of local businesses, according to the GCCI President.
During a press conference yesterday at his Church Street office, Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo, also addressed the matter. He said that the energy sector seems to be overwhelmed by foreign actors, who are being allowed to define the opportunities in the sector, from the Department of Energy, to everywhere else.
He added that the provision of services and advice from foreigners must be capitalized on in a manner that is indigenously determined.
The forum, supposedly purposed to facilitate a culture of development for the energy sector, was sponsored by Kenson Group of Companies, a consortium acting as a service contractor to oil and gas companies in the Trinidadian energy sector; and First Citizens Bank, a Trinidadian financial institution which has even set up office in Barbados and Costa Rica.
Both firms took the opportunity to sell themselves with much praise at the start of the event. There were also several booths staged outside of the forum, including Caribbean Tower Cranes Limited, Caribbean Safety Products Limited, HHSL Safety Systems Limited and the Hummingbird Group, IWES Limited, and Oshes Limited. Kaieteur News understands that some of those companies have already set up shop in Guyana, and others intend to do so in the very near future.
Presentations were also made by Massy, ExxonMobil, STOW, Saipem, OPITO, Houston Area Safety Council. The public actors that were represented included the Ministry of Social Protection, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), TVET Guyana, and the National Advisory Committee on Safety and Health.
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