Feb 13, 2020 News
By Kiana Wilburg
A preliminary review of Guyana’s Local Content Policy shows that some key recommendations which were made, have been ignored.
The draft report which was done by UK Consultant, Dr. Michael Warner, contained a provision which called for companies’ Local Content reports to remain confidential between the Minister of Business and his Ministry. Only a “summary” of those reports submitted would be made public.
During the period of submissions on the said draft, this publication had contended that this confidentiality provision should be removed, since a Minister’s interpretation of these reports, along with his or her selective extraction of aggregated data, would not necessarily provide a full and fair opportunity for citizens to make an informed analysis or conclusion of how local content is being achieved, or the lack thereof.
In the interest of holding the operator, the regulator and the government accountable, Kaieteur News recommended that the full reports are made public. Significantly, in the said recommendation it was noted, “In whose interest is it to keep such reports confidential? Is it in the interest of Guyanese or the companies? If it is the latter, then this provision would be in contradiction to the very essence of the title of this document which states, ‘Local Content Policy.’ No provision in this policy should even have the appearance of straying from the objective.”
In spite of the foregoing, the provision for confidentiality remained in the Local Content Policy. The provision states that “legal constraints” prevent the disclosure of submitted and reported information on local content to parties beyond the Minister.
According to the policy, the Minister shall disclose the anticipated contracting and procurement opportunities for Guyanese suppliers in the form of completed tables in an Operator’s Local Content Plan. Information would also be pulled from the operator’s half-year and end-of-year reports.
The Minister on an annual basis, would also be allowed disclose a “summary” of the operator’s Local Content Utilization Report. The policy notes that the operator is expected to include additional commentary on its disclosures such as an explanation of inconsistencies between anticipated levels of local content and actual performance.
Further to this, the Local Content Committee alone, would have the authority to view “in confidence” the approved Operators’ plans for the sole purpose of carrying out its function of policy oversight.
In all other cases, “information submitted to the Minister in Operator’s Local Content Plans and appendices and half-year and end-of-year Local Content Reports, shall remain confidential to the Operator and Ministry.”
Of significance is the fact that confidentiality provisions were never included in the first two drafts of the policy that were done by Trinidadian Local Content Expert, Anthony Paul. It was only included after the Department of Energy awarded a $22M contract to complete the policy to Dr. Warner, who Kaieteur News had reported, has ties to ExxonMobil.
This newspaper will publish on Sunday, a detailed analysis of the policy.
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