The Georgetown Chamber of Commerce today warned enterprises and potential investors about using “rent-a-citizen” and front men to get involved in the oil and gas sector under the Local Content rules.
While not pointing to any specific company, but making reference to the current issue between RAMPS Logistics and the Local Content Secretariat, the Chamber of Commerce said it is fully supportive of the Government’s efforts at promoting local content and benefits for Guyanese.
The business body noted that local participation must be done in a manner that engenders meaningful and genuine partnerships, since such participation will ensure that benefits accrue not just to Guyanese owners, but to Guyana.
The GCCI said it strongly repudiates any enterprise or citizen that seeks to exploit the local content framework by operating under the guise of local participation when this is not, in fact, the reality of the operation.
It said the phenomenon – commonly referred to as ‘fronting’ or ‘rent-a-citizen’ – has the potential to reduce the amount of value which accrues to Guyana and runs counter to the spirit and intent of the Local Content Act.
The Chamber issued a call on the Local Content Secretariat to examine the ‘beneficial ownership’ of enterprises seeking to obtain Local Content Certificates and recommends that the ‘burden of proof’ regarding beneficial ownership lie with the enterprise seeking to apply for the Certificate.
“This will act as a layer of protection against those seeking to operate in this unethical and unpatriotic manner. The GCCI encourages the Local Content Secretariat to continue its vetting of companies applying for a Local Content Certificate in a thorough fashion”, the statement said.
The Georgetown Chamber of Commerce was at the forefront along with the Private Sector Commission in the push for Local Content legislation. It was the President of the Chamber of Commerce, Timothy Tucker who questioned the benefits Guyana gets from CARICOM when some CARICOM countries expressed concern about some aspects of the Local Content legislation.
The RAMPS Logistics Company was denied a Local Content Certificate to operate in the oil and gas sector with no explanation given.
The company is a member of the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce. The Chairman of RAMPS Logistics, Shaun Rampersaud, today said he shares good relations with the President and other officials of the business chamber.