Back in March 2019, the World Bank and the former APNU+AFC Government had signed a US$20M loan to strengthen the nation’s capacity to govern the oil sector. But several contracts which were subsequently handed out under this loan, have sparked nationwide concern.
One of the contracts that ignited immediate criticisms related to the review of Guyana’s Local Content Policy. That document was initially done by Trinidadian Expert, Anthony Paul. He had submitted two drafts to the former government which contained provisions that gave Guyanese the edge in the oil industry for the supply of goods and services.
Once the World Bank loan came on stream, the coalition awarded a contract for the completion of the policy to Dr. Michael Warner, a local content consultant from the United Kingdom. Guyana Standard had subsequently revealed that Warner is an ExxonMobil affiliate who was actually brought to Guyana to protect the interests of oil companies. Following the completion of the document, several media reports have exposed that Warner removed provisions that were put in place by Paul to give Guyanese the advantage in the oil sector.
Considering this alarming instance along with others, Vice President, Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo said it is clear that the World Bank loan has to reviewed to ensure the winning contractors are those who have the interests of the country at heart. Dr. Jagdeo said he has registered this sentiment with the financial institution while noting that he intends to do the same with the Inter-American Development Bank which had given Guyana a US$11.6M loan in 2018.
“How we contract consultants under these loans has been a concern of us and if you go through a competitive process and they determine the outcome, you find that the people who win over other candidates are more in tune to the interests of the client, ” the official expressed.
The Vice President added,”They may have better CVs and rank higher but that does not mean they will look out for your interest…So this is an internal issue we are discussing now because it is an agonizing matter.”