Oct 27, 2021 Editorial
Kaieteur News – On the face of it, the Draft Local Content Policy (Draft Policy) is a solid document. Though still in draft form only at this point, the document is representative of a comprehensive approach in a number of vital areas that have all been closely watched, and have much meaning for Guyanese. This oil wealth is ours, and notwithstanding the huge element of profit for Exxon and the other multinational oil presences in Guyana, Guyanese are the ones who should benefit first and foremost, and in every area conceivable.
We at this paper think that the Draft Policy covers a lot of ground, and it is specific in those places that it needs to be, and are mandatory in any document that is to be given some credibility and regarded with some respect. The Draft Policy addressed at a fairly finite level such areas as recruitment and staffing at different levels, delved into aspects of procurement, and encircled a significant array of goods and services related to the growing oil industry. We discern a considerable amount of thought embedded in the result, and are glad to say so. Also, it is obvious that much energy and insight went into the preparation and compilation of the Draft Policy document.
Further, a range of values and measurements are stated in this Draft Policy, and all very specific as to the levels of local content that are expected to be involved, and which those exploring and exploiting our oil riches should deliver. We prefer to take this a step higher and make this much tighter: local content levels (percentages, tonnages, time periods, volumes, and so forth) should not be presented as an expectation. From our way of thinking, that is going about local content requirements in the wrong way: it leaves too much manoeuvering room. Those stated levels must be mandatory, which oil companies and other participants in our upstream and downstream sectors must (must) deliver. They must be measured against the numbers stated in the Draft Policy, and held up to public scrutiny, plus public sanction for failure to comply with our requirements to the fullest. This is what they are: demands, compulsory, and they are the minimum. These are not something nice to have, or for decorative purposes. They are real and material, and they mean much to us, because when they are delivered it means that Guyanese are partaking to their wrists, for a start, in our natural resources blessings.
To repeat for emphasis: the Draft Policy is a sound start, and though we would have been more pleased with some more (to follow later), we welcome it, and in all of its sweep and multiple applications. Soon enough, the time will come to move from paper to practice. In other words, the Draft Policy is only as good as far as it goes, because the real proof will be in the enriching pudding for local people. This Draft Policy must be finalised and become fully operational in the shortest period from today, with January 1st looking like as good a start date as any. Already, it took too long to come to this draft state, and that must be closed out in the quickest order. Too much time has been lost and too many Guyanese left on the outside, while the outsiders reap our riches. This Draft Policy, when the ‘draft’ is removed and it becomes official must not be made to serve as an ornament on a shelf, or as an impressive weighty paperweight. It must come alive and be made to work, so that our own people can really get to experience what it means to be active and meaningful participants in an oil-producing nation.
If there is one thing with which we would express some difference, it is that some of those starting percentages for staffing, and time periods, as stated in years, could have been a bit more on the aggressive side. We think another 10 percentage points, and lessening the time period by one year, before going to the next tier, would have found greater reception with us. Still, we say let’s get going to make it happen, and let’s ensure that delivery occurs throughout.
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