The Guyana Government has received commendations for its collaborative and pragmatic approach for implementation of the country’s Local Content Policy as outlined in the draft document.
But according to British Local Content Expert Dr. Michael Warner, there are risks involved in pursuing this approach just as there are risks in assuming a non-collaborative posture.
Dr. Warner, who is currently in Guyana and working with the Center for Local Business Development, spearheaded a master class on local content at the Pegasus hotel on Wednesday.
Offering his views on the latest draft policy, Dr. Warner endorsed the work of the Center but more importantly he believes the draft policy is headed in the right direction.
“We need to now look at implementation to ensure it [the policy] works and it works well,” he said.
He believes the policy has at its core a collaborative and pragmatic approach to implementation. But the British Expert drew attention to countries on the African continent that have copied a policy from another oil producing nation that is far from workable under the domestic conditions.
Dr. Warner cautioned Guyana against this, as he repeatedly offered his support to the draft document currently in place.
He said it is important that Guyana, under its stated approach, keep the market open to local and international companies to compete on a level playing field.
He said the more the policy is interpreted to give direct preference to local companies it amounts to a breach of the World Trade Organization rules.
“The policy should allow for voluntary preference by private commercial companies,” he added.
Turning his attention to the risks involved, Dr. Warner said it could amount to local content standards being reduced to the lowest common denominator or where operators fail to abide by the voluntary agreements.
An uncollaborative approach will allow for the policy to be legally binding, he said, but it can also amount to poor design and a lack of buy in.
He said he was not coming to Guyana as an advisor on how the policy should be implemented but only to share his thoughts on the way forward.
Present at the lunch time discussion were several members of the local private sector, executives from Exxon Mobil and members of the legal fraternity.