Home Letters Patterson still has an opportunity to make a contribution, if he has...
Please permit a space in your column to pen my opinion with respect to an article entitled, “Patterson says Opposition received no ‘invite’ to Draft Local Content Consultation” that appeared sections of the media.
First, I would like to address the issue of the first draft local content policy (LCP) document. The document was published in January 2020 by the then APNU government was basically skewed and highly in favor of international companies operating in the oil and gas sector. The document in its entirety, which ironically received widespread applause from the then coalition government, was riddled with loopholes and crafted in a much ambiguous language to allow international firms to evade local content obligations. For instance, the document was void of a lucid definition of what constitutes ‘local content’; what is meant by ‘competitive’ pricing, and; what local content levels/targets (using a sliding scale approach) are to be attained from the date of effectiveness of license or petroleum agreement, et al. Indeed, not having a clear definition of local content in place would eventually give way to a lack of enforcement and compliance, respectively. Secondly, the essence of local content is embedded in the procurement process. If there is no definition as to what entails ‘competitive price’, then on what basis would companies be selected, if there is any competitive bidding process in place, to begin with. The point is, as, with the government procurement process, goods and services are usually sourced or procured through a competitive bidding process, of which the lowest bidder usually gets the job. If this fundamental principle is violated in the policy document, then foreign firms would be at liberty to sole source almost all their goods and services, notwithstanding whether our local firms are competitive or have the capacity to satisfy such need. Thirdly, how can we hold international firms accountable if there is no explicit target in place that stipulates the share of local employment or investment that must be attained within a certain period of time. These are just a few of the many anomalies that form part of the first draft of the local content policy document under the previous administration. Unfortunately, Mr. Patterson was a staunch supporter of this document.
The second point I want to raise is the duplicitous nature of Mr Patterson. It is of public record that Mr Patterson was not only part of the opposition that blatantly attempted to thwart the will of the people to appoint a government of their choice, but is an active member of the opposition that does not recognize the legitimate nature of this government. Further, if my memory serves me well, he was a leading figure behind the attempt to boycott the inaugural address of His Excellency, The President of Guyana, Dr. Ali.
So, the question is not whether an invitation was sent to Mr. Patterson, but on what grounds does he deserve to be invited to the Local Content Consultation that was held at the ACCC. First, he acceded to the content of a document that clearly does not safeguard added wealth transfer to our people from the oil and gas sector, nor does he recognize the legitimacy of this legally elected Government.
Even if, let’s assume, he now recognizes the legality of this Government and is cognizant of the many deficiencies and incompetence that enrobed the then government, nothing precluded him from participating in the consultation. The event was open to the public. In fact, the document was publicly uploaded to the Ministry of Natural Resources website prior to the consultation and is currently online for comments and questions. So, there is hope. Mr Patterson still has the opportunity to make a contribution, if he has any!