After perusing Guyana’s Local Content Policy which was released this week, Advisor to the People’s Progressive Party (PPP), Peter Ramsaroop has declared his opinion that in the history of policies for global emerging markets, Guyana made one of the weakest attempts to protect the interest of the citizenry.
From the lack of quotas to the failure of procurement techniques to give locals a fighting chance when competing against foreign companies, Ramsaroop posited that the policy is simply riddled with weak provisions from beginning to end.
The politician noted that the concept of “first consideration” in the policy, which states that first preference must be given to locals for the use of goods, skills and services, is a weak one, since it is not empowered by penalties for noncompliance. He posited that since this provision is merely advisory in nature, the advantage locals should have in the sector remains unsecured.
The Guyanese author also highlighted the absence of quotas companies must meet when it comes to hiring locals for well-paying jobs in the sector. In this regard, Ramsaroop commented, “Do we want Guyanese to be welders, truck drivers, and IT technicians for the “crumbs” of a multi-billion USD oil industry or do we wish to empower them to be captains of commerce, with high ranking positions and the power to really participate in and lead Guyana’s development?”
Further to the foregoing argument, Ramsaroop opined that there needs to be clearly outlined provisions which give advantages to Guyanese within procurement activities so as to help balance the scales when competing against foreign groups. Again, this is something that Ramsaroop noted is absent from the finished Local Content Policy.
To put the icing on the proverbial cake, Ramsaroop noted that Guyana has brought forth a Local Content Policy with no complementary law. The advisor said that without proper laws, the respect the government expects to see for the already weak policy would not happen. “Foreign companies need to be driven by both incentives and penalties, not simply by guidance, in order to really build local capacity,” the PPP Advisor said.
Ramsaroop stressed that the authorities of the day need to act swiftly to make provisions for significant local content laws that will rightly benefit the Guyanese people whilst not proving onerous and unattractive to foreign investors and multinationals.