Gov’t proposes establishment of Local Content Register in historic Bill

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As part of the Local Content Bill, the government is proposing the establishment of a Local Content Register said to be developed and maintained by the Local Content Secretariat.

The Bill which was tabled in the National Assembly on Thursday by Minister of Natural Resources, Vickram Bharrat, indicated that the register will comprise of Guyanese for employment and Guyanese nationals and Guyanese companies from which goods and services may be procured.

A Guyanese national and/or Guyanese company may apply for and be issued with a certificate of registration by the Secretariat.

This certificate will be granted annually and become renewable on the anniversary date of the issuance of the certificate. Applying for renewables will be made through the Local Content Secretariat, the Bill noted. Following the issuance of the document, qualified Guyanese and Guyanese companies will be added to the Local Content Register.

The Bill noted, however, that should the status of citizenship of the national or composition of the company be changed, then the Secretariat should immediately be informed of such. If a person who fails to notify the body of this change commits an offence, then that person is liable to a fine of one to five million dollars. In addition, the individual or company will be struck off the register.

The Natural Resources Minister, during an interview with the National Communications Network (NCN), shared that the government is hoping to create two registers – one to deal with employment and the other to deal with the provisions of goods and services.

He was quick to respond to questions and concerns regarding whether Guyanese nationals and Guyanese businesses will be allowed to do business with oil operators and/ or their subcontractors if they have not registered with the Secretariat.

“The answer to that is yes, you can,” Minister Bharrat said as he explained, “We’re not saying that you have to be on our register in order to do business with operators or the IOCs (international oil companies). Once you are a Guyanese company, fine, no problem, but then there is no reason for you not to sign up with the Local Content Secretariat too, so that you are recognised and, on our database, and we advertise your services to the companies. There are advantages for our local companies to be on that register.”

The establishing of this register will also give time to the oil and gas operators to “put themselves in other,” the Minister noted.

Against this backdrop, he articulated, “We can’t expect that we pass a bill today and by tomorrow that automatically, these IOCs will send home everyone and start doing business with Guyanese. We have to be fair and we got to be real. That is what this Bill is all about.”

The Local Content Bill, which looks to give Guyanese first preference and knowledge sharing in the oil and gas sector, lays out 40 services that oil companies and their sub-contractors must procure from Guyanese companies and Guyanese nationals by the end of 2022. For instance, by the end of the upcoming year, Guyanese should provide 90% of office space rental and accommodation services; 90% for janitorial, laundry, catering services; 95% pest control services; 25% medical services; 20% aviation and support services and 75% local food supply. These are just a few of the services highlighted in the schedule.

The Bill is still to be debated in the National Assembly. The Government has committed to ensuring that it will be passed and made into law before 2022.

Notably, the Bill to amend the Natural Resources Fund (NRF) was also tabled in the National Assembly on Thursday too. These amendments lead the way for a more prudent, transparent and accountable management of the oil fund.

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