Guyana: Amendments to Local Content Bill to improve transparency, opportunities

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President Dr Mohamed Irfaan Ali assents the Local Content Bill as Ministers of Government, government officials, members of the civil society and the private sector looks on

By Mikaila Prince

GEORGETOWN, Guyana, (DPI) – The People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) government made a few amendments to the Local Content Bill 2021 that will further ensure transparency and added benefits for Guyana and its people.

In the Act that was assented to by His Excellency Dr Mohamed Irfaan Ali last Friday, one of the amendments [Clause (6)(9)] states that the Local Content Registers shall be published by the Local Content Secretariat on the website of the ministry of natural resources or any other media of wide circulation. The secretariat is the body responsible for developing and maintaining the two registers that deal with the provision of employment; and two, the supply of goods and services.

Minister of natural resources, Vickram Bharrat, M.P., had said last week that the creation of the two registers should commence as early as this week.

Another change in the Bill, saw the name-change of a critical committee created under the Act [Part V]. In the Bill, the government proposed the establishment of the Inter-Agency Advisory Committee. This body’s name has been changed to the Local Content Advisory Committee and it will be tasked with ensuring the monitoring of local content commitment by oil companies, their contractors and sub-contractors and shall consist of not less than seven members appointed by the president.

The Act states that the members appointed to this committee will be selected from across 19 government agencies [(20) (3)]. In the Bill, this figure stood at 15, however, it was changed with the addition of agencies such as the National Toshaos Council (NTC); the Guyana Bar Association (GBA); the parliamentary opposition, and lastly, a representative from local petroleum organisations.

The fourth and fifth amendments [(20) (4), (5)], see to it that the president shall appoint a chairperson of the committee from amongst the members of the committee and that a vice chairman of the committee shall be elected at the first meeting of the same body.

The function of this committee, this being another amendment [(20) (8)], is to support the secretariat in the discharge of its functions in an advisory capacity and to provide the minister with recommendations. The committee may determine and document its own procedure for discharging its functions [(20) (9)].

The government also made two amendments to the first schedule of the minimum local content levels to be achieved by 2022 by a contractor, sub-contractor or licensee. The schedule outlines 40 different sectors and sub-sectors for Guyanese businesses. The two amendments increase the minimum level for local insurance services from 90 to 100 percent, while the percentage for local accounting services has jumped from 20 to 90 percent.

During the assenting of the Bill last week, president Ali highlighted that this mechanism gives Guyana and its people the opportunity to win and secure a plethora of benefits.

“It sets the framework for Guyanese to win, and that is what we are interested in. We are interested in Guyanese winning and we know … when the people of Guyana win, the world wins, this region wins,” president Ali had stated.

The head of state emphasised that the Bill is not set in stone but it is the start of a dynamic journey for Guyana. He said the country is in its infancy stage in the oil and gas sector, noting that the development of the sector will bring changes to the country’s economy. The president also disclosed that the government will soon be announcing a series of initiatives that will be put to the private sector to mobilise local financing and local involvement.

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