Head of Transparency International Guyana Inc. (TIGI), Dr. Troy Thomas, is opposed to ExxonMobil’s specialist, Dr. Michael Warner being paid by the State to complete Guyana’s Local Content Policy. By allowing this to happen, he warned that the country may very well end up with a policy that protects the interest of the oil firm and not the country’s.
His invited comments come on the heels of recent revelations by Minister of State, Joseph Harmon, that the “Ministerial Plenary” noted a $22M contract that was granted to Warner. The contract is for the completion of the nation’s Local Content Policy.
Not only is Dr. Warner an employee of ExxonMobil, but his company, Local Content Solutions Limited, was acquired by DAI International Group a few months ago. DAI is an American company and manages ExxonMobil’s Local Content Centre for Development located on South Road, Georgetown. Warner provides training there on how local businesses can fit themselves into ExxonMobil’s supply chain.
After being informed of the ties between Warner and Exxon, Dr. Thomas said one certainly cannot expect the company to be independent.
He said, “You expect ExxonMobil to be consulted and have some input in the policy but you don’t expect someone who is linked to the company to have a strong drive on finishing the policy. Once there is that link to Exxon then it is immediately an issue for us. We need someone who is independent. And I don’t think that that person can be seen as independent given the arrangements between the firm (DAI) that acquired his company and ExxonMobil.”
Dr. Thomas also expressed worry about Guyana ’s final Local Content Policy being moulded by Exxon, especially when one considers how it reports on this matter. He said that there needs to be checks and balances in place to protect Guyana’s interest.
In June 2018, the Government of Guyana released a list of 228 “companies” that have been benefitting from the local content efforts of ExxonMobil. The list, when perused, was found to be padded. Names of companies were duplicated and individuals were dubbed “registered companies.” Even Bourda Market was listed as a company. State institutions such as Guyana Water Inc were included in the list. Even the Guyana Revenue Authority, the country’s tax collection agency, named a benefitting company.
International Local Content Expert Nelson Narciso had told the Guyana Standard that based on his preliminary examination of the list; it does not amount to “local content.”
Narciso had said, “If you want to know if something is local content or not then ask yourself, did the company’s investment lead to the development of local skills to a lasting degree? Were local businesses able to increase their manpower to support the operations of the oil company? Was there transfer of technology and related assets? If not, then you have your answer.”