Hold companies accountable for health, safety, damage to environment – AmCham Guyana
…as T&T counterparts urge robust regulatory framework for oil sector
The need for companies to make an effort to reduce their carbon footprint, observe health and safety policies, and be held accountable by the countries they operate in was on Wednesday emphasised by Guyana’s American Chamber (AmCham), President Zulficar Ally.
Ally was at the time speaking during a conference at the Marriott Hotel, organised to discuss health and safety in the Private Sector. According to Ally, companies will be expected to lift their standards when it comes to health and safety and they should be held accountable for that.
“Gone are the days when companies can operate with reckless disregard for the environment and its inhabitants. Compassion is the single quality that defines us as humane. And it is now being asked of us, that whether it’s birds or fishes or trees, the right to life is not one that (only) we as human beings are endowed and entitled. And it is not enough to perform grand gestures of show if the impact is minimal,” he said.
He stressed the need for companies to not only limit the effects their operations can have, but also make an effort to reverse the damage. Besides the environmental damage, Ally noted the effect irresponsible operations can have on a business’s reputation.
“Not only will they lost customers and supporters, but their reputations stand to be irreversibly destroyed by the damage that they leave behind. We should all consider this seriously. A robust environmental programme must not only complement a business mandate, but must remain central to it,” he added.
Ally also noted that with the changing economic dynamics in Guyana, companies that want to benefit must lift their standards in these areas. At present, AmCham Guyana is hosting a health, safety, security and environment conference at the Marriott Hotel.
The one-day event, held under the theme “preparing for sustainable development”, featured an appearance from Exxon Guyana’s Production Manager Mike Ryan. The Manager endeavoured to give an account of his company’s health and safety policies, stressing that ExxonMobil puts the safety of its workers above business and profits.
The need for Guyana to get adequate systems in place to regulate the oil and gas sector was also emphasised at the event, this time by AMCHAM’s Trinidad and Tobago chapter.
Making these pronouncements was Trinidadian AMCHAM President Patricia Ghany. She warned about the effects of oil spills and other dangers of the sector when appropriate regulations and regulators were not set up. Ghany’s warnings, however, also included an offer of assistance from her organisation to its local counterparts.
“There are many changes to come that will transform business and investment. With 23 years of experience and leadership in health and safety, AmCham T&T is ready to assist should the need arrive. So don’t hesitate to reach out to us,” she said.
Guyana’s state of readiness is a sore issue, considering the fact that first oil is next year and only a single piece of legislation related to the sector has been passed. This legislation is the Natural Resources Fund Bill, which was signed into law by President David Granger earlier this year.
The bill to create a Petroleum Commission is yet to pass in the House, while a national oil spill strategy and local content policy are still works in progress.