The former Chairman of the Private Sector Commission, Captain Gerry Gouveia has expressed concern and disgust over recent statements by the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and the Private Sector Commission on the issue of Local Content and foreign companies investing in Guyana.
While stopping short of addressing the issue of RAMPS Logistics being denied a Local Content Certificate, Mr. Gouveia took umbrage to the statements made by the two leading private-sector agencies that he once led.
He said while there is no doubt that Guyana needs a local content strategy to formalize how foreign companies should operate here, the private sector has also advocated for “red tape” to be removed to encourage more foreign investment.
Gouviea said now that the country has a growing oil and gas sector, private sector leaders should not become arrogant and inhospitable to foreign businesses.
“We must set out in very clear and unambiguous terms what is required to qualify and meet the local content benchmarks. We cannot be changing the rules, the meaning and moving the goal post as a matter of subjective and convenient personal preferences, “the former PSC Chairman said.
Gouveia, who now serves in the Government as the National Security Advisor has had to remove himself as CEO of his private businesses. The management of the businesses has since been handed over to his wife and sons. The businesses share close ties with a number of international companies and have even partnered with RAMPS logistics to form a joint venture.
“We should not have to be rich or well known or well connected for a foreign company who is looking to include Guyanese in their Business as a means of meeting the local content criteria to be invited and become included as an ordinary Guyanese citizen who might be lucky to meet the investor,” Gouveia opined.
On Thursday, the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) 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.
Mr. Gouieva is not in agreement with such statements.
“If we talk like this, if we do this, then only rich Guyanese and well-connected Guyanese would benefit. Most certainly, we must demand that Guyanese dominate the workforces across the business of the investors and we must ensure that they are paid well and treated well,” Gouveia noted.
The RAMPS Logistics company was denied a license to continue to operate in the local oil and gas sector.
While no reason has been given for the denial, it appears as though there is concern that while the majority shareholder of the company is a Guyanese citizen, he was born in Trinidad and lives and works in Trinidad.
His father and Grandparents are Guyanese. Some in the private sector believe that there should be closer ties to Guyana for the majority shareholders in keeping with the legislation, although residency is not a requirement.