Local Content Policy must clearly outline benefits for Guyanese – British envoy

Oil and gas sector

It is imperative that Guyana has a finalised Local Content Policy with clear guidelines on how everyone will benefit. According to British High Commissioner Gregory Quinn, the sooner this is completed the better for everyone.
The High Commissioner was asked about local content on the sidelines of an event on Friday, where he noted the urgency of having a policy. According to Quinn, it should be a prerequisite for Guyana doing business with the international community while ensuring ordinary Guyanese benefit.

British High Commissioner Gregory Quinn

“We’re still waiting to see what the Local Content Policy or legislation will look like. So we’re waiting and I think it’s actually important that that gets delivered and produced quite quickly so that everyone knows, both on the international business side but also on the local company side.”
“Because no good international company will want to come in here and not do stuff that will benefit the local economy and the local population. But they need to know exactly what the parameters which they have to work in are. So I think the sooner we have complete clarity on that, I think the better for everybody.”
However, Quinn noted that these companies need to know within what framework they can work. Asked about what forms of local content companies should employ, Quinn had this to say.
“I think it’s everything. I don’t think there’s any one way you can look at it. Obviously there’d be jobs, whether its people working in the office. Whether its people they sub contract to provide services, or employing more people,” Quinn said.
“So I think local content has to be very clear in demonstrating what local people are getting out of it. And it’s not just about providing the jobs. It’s about providing the education and the knowledge and passing on that, so that the people here who are working in the companies can also benefit and develop themselves, through the system.”

Draft policy
The Department of Energy has been collaborating with the Private Sector in order to draft the Local Content Policy. It was announced earlier this year that a contract was awarded to a British local content specialist, for individual consultancy services to the state pertaining to the oil and gas sector.
The contract, which is to the tune of over US$100,000, was awarded to Dr Michael Warner. Warner is presently the Director for Local Content reporting, Sustainable Business Group of the DAI Global.
It was DAI Global that helped to launch and then manage ExxonMobil’s Centre for Local Business Development (CLBD) based in Guyana. Warner has also presented on Guyana’s own draft Local Content Policy, where he gave it positive reviews.
Local content and what it will do for Guyana has been a burning question since the announcement of oil in the Stabroek block in 2015. After ExxonMobil first tempered expectations by saying that few job opportunities will be created by oil, it has since said that it will help with local content delivery.
A draft Local Content Policy created by the Government has previously been criticised in for lacking provisions which would safeguard against exploitation by companies, especially since there have been intensified reports of the local companies being bypassed for contracts and services with foreign companies being favoured.
The document does not cater for issues such as how to avoid procurement fraud, conflict of interest and favouritism, among others. According to the draft local content framework document, the policy seeks to address the suite of opportunities that may arise.
It also addresses the approaches to be taken in selecting and developing opportunities related to enhancing the capabilities of Guyanese nationals and businesses through training and well-tailored social contributions for greater impact and benefits among others.
The initial draft, after being released, was unfavourably critiqued by an Inter-American Development Bank sponsored report. According to the report, Guyana’s draft was missing critical parts of generally accepted local content principles. For one, the report stated that the draft policy did not contain concrete targets or performance metrics
Business Minister Dominic Gaskin had announced last year that the second review of the Local Content Policy is expected to be completed by the first quarter of 2019.