Local businesses already losing out to foreign companies – GCCI

first_img– stresses need for “buddying system”, joint ventures to be enforcedForeign companies securing work in Guyana without including locals in the process are causing some amount of concern among the local private sector. This is especially so as Guyana is still without a final Local Content Policy while preparing for the coming on stream of an oil industry.Expressing concern over the failure to meaningfully incorporate Local Content was Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) President, Deodat Indar, who noted that foreign firms are registering as businesses in Guyana.At a recent press conference, he pointed out that foreign businesses do not even seek joint ventures with the companies they meet here. According to the GCCI head, these businesses instead go out and bid for contracts on their own.“There are businesses that were registered here, and I will tell you this from fact: the law firms in this country, most of them saw an influx of new registration of businesses from foreign companies,” he posited.“They did not come and meet a company in Guyana and say, ‘Okay, you are good at catering and I am good at catering; could I come and maybe we can work on an arrangement where I can be your associate company and we can bid for the contract?’ No, they did not do that; they came and set up their own companies here, and they now are going to bid by themselves,” Indar related.The GCCI President observed that the ‘buddying system’ he was advocating was either a JV (joint venture) or an associate arrangement. But he noted that, at the end of the day, the partnership must include skills transfer. He gave a few examples, including providing training or even building education facilities.At the time of the press conference, the GCCI head had recently returned from a fact-finding mission to Canada. He related that, while in Canada, he was able to observe their oil industry in action from a legislative and operational perspective.While he acknowledged that the buddying system was not perfect, he noted that foreign companies should, before going elsewhere, at least make sure that there are no companies in Guyana with the capacity to partner with them or supply goods and services.“The buddying system works well, and we should pursue that rather than extensions, (whereby) foreign businesses come and set up here and have a shop front; that does not do anything for our development. Because the same way they come and set up, the same way they leave. That does not do anything for Guyana’s development. We need to build capacity,” the GCCI official explained.Local Content and what it will do for Guyana has been a burning question since the announcement of an oil find in the Stabroek block. ExxonMobil had first tempered expectations by saying that few job opportunities would be created by oil, but it has since said that it would help with Local Content delivery.The oil giant was granted a production licence in June of this year, and Minister of Natural Resources, Raphael Trotman, had given Exxon a six-month deadline in order to submit its Local Content plan to the Government.ExxonMobil’s newly appointed Country Manager in Guyana, Rod Henson, had previously announced that the company would be relocating its onshore operations, which were used for support services, from neighbouring Trinidad and Tobago to Guyana.He had told participants at a meeting that it was not a case whereby ExxonMobil would be looking to build a facility for its support services, but would rather put out tenders, and anyone interested in providing the shore base services could present a proposal.The Government itself had also formulated a Draft Local Content Policy which sets out its plan for ensuring that Guyanese develop socio- economic capacity from oil, a finite resource. In the plan, which was seen by this publication, Government promised to work with stakeholders, including investors and skills development agencies, to design and deliver training programmes.The document says this training would be for individuals and firms appropriate to the sector’s needs. Among other things, the document promised employment and business opportunities, as well as to implement appropriate legislation.The Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry, after a review of the document, was not impressed. It has been reported in the media that the GCCI is dissatisfied with the document’s lack of specificity and the policy, plaintively stating that few direct and indirect jobs can be derived from the sector.The GCCI has observed that jobs such as maintenance crewmen, pump men, cooks and riggers are not being done by Guyanese, but rather by foreigners.The GCCI also noted that the University of Guyana should have been cited in the policy as the body to run courses and certifications for workers in the industry.Trotman, however, had in the past responded to the GCCI’s concerns. He had said that a lot has already been done to push Local Content, and that the policy was just a draft that would be guided by the input of stakeholders. (Jarryl Bryan)last_img read more

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