There should be transparency between foreign investors and Govt – Jagdeo
Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo has clarified that he does not have anything against foreign investors coming here, but insisted that they should not be doing underhand deals with the caretaker coalition Government.
Two week ago, Jagdeo had disclosed that ‘carpetbagger’ investors, including some from Trinidad, were entering into secret deals with the Government, and cleaning up prime real estate. But his statements did not sit well with some foreigners looking to come invest here, particularly those within the Caribbean Region.
In fact, days later, a spokesperson from Trinidad and Tobago Chamber of Industry and Commerce told the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC) that the comments made by the Guyanese politician were “currently being discussed”.
However, the Opposition Leader last week defended his remarks, saying that there is nothing wrong with foreign investors coming here, but insisted they should be transparent in their transactions.
“(We don’t want) not carpetbaggers flowing through here and before we know it, there’re no opportunities for our people, and that is what is being done. Not that I have anything against Trinidadians or anyone else coming here as investors. But what I have problems with is when this government, in this period of illegality and a caretaker role, went to an investors’ conference in Trinidad paid by taxpayers and after the investors’ conference, was working out private deals,” Jagdeo stated.
According to the Opposition Leader, investors were giving money to Government officials who went to the investors’ conference in Trinidad last month and in exchange they are given tracts of lands in prime locations across Guyana, including at Diamond on the East Bank of Demerara; Wales on the West Bank of Demerara, and even along the alignment of the East Bank to East Coast bypass road. He noted too the land which was earmarked for the now cancelled Specialty Hospital is being negotiated for or is already gone.
Previously, Jagdeo had disclosed that many ‘carpetbagger’ investors are coming here to take advantage of underhand deals and are benefitting from land giveaways, at a time when the Government should be in a caretaker mode.
“The ‘carpetbaggers’ are coming… In Diamond, the Trinidadians are coming in and getting a ton of land there and a lot of them are paying bribes. I don’t have a problem with Trinidadians coming here and investing but not in this period,” he had stated.
The Opposition Leader noted that this situation was particularly worrying especially in the absence of a local content policy to protect Guyanese interests.
“Let me tell you something about local content. Before the Government changes, almost all of the opportunities that are gonna be available for our people are gonna be gone… There is no local content policy. We will become second-class citizens in this country because this government doesn’t care, and is not looking out for Guyanese and is part of these deals,” he stressed.
According to Jagdeo, while Guyana can benefit from the expertise of its Trinidadian neighbours, he believes Guyanese should be able to broker the same benefits as foreigners.
“When are you gonna protect our people? When you gonna have the courage to protect our people through a solid local content policy… I don’t have a problem with people from Trinidad coming here. I believe they have a lot of expertise in the oil and gas sector; we need skilled people but they must come in transparently and Guyanese must have the opportunity to access the same resources they are getting now at this rate,” he lamented.
To this end, the Opposition Leader went on to note that, “we have to have a local content policy – within the month of a new PPP Government – that emphasises Guyanese benefitting from these things.”
Local stakeholders have been long pushing for a local content policy especially since oil production is expected to commence in the first quarter of next year.
Nevertheless, Energy Director, Dr Mark Bynoe earlier this month disclosed that the first draft of the Policy is completed and that they are working on establishing a Compliance Unit to monitor data from the sector and ensure that the oil resources are managed prudently. He had promised too to have issues raised by Guyanese addressed.