The long-awaited Local Content Bill was tabled today in the National Assembly after the government completed consultations with some stakeholders.
Describing the tabling of the bill as historic, the Minister of Natural Resources, Vickram Bharat said the Bill will provide for the implementation of local content obligations on companies engaged in petroleum operations or related activities in Guyana.
The Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) and the Private Sector Commission (PSC) had called on the Government to ensure that the legislation was presented before the end of the year.
Two months ago, the GCCI stated that while it is not against foreign investments, there must be a leveled playing field in the oil and gas sector since many of its members had raised concerns about foreign contractors being employed to do the same thing they are certified to do.
Concerns were also raised by several unions that represent oil workers about the disparity in pay for Guyanese workers in the oil sector, who would receive half and in some cases, less than half of the amount paid to their foreign counterparts.
When the local content legislation is passed, it will prioritise Guyanese nationals and Guyanese companies in the procurement of goods and services for the enhancement of the value chain of the petroleum sector and enable local capacity development.
The Bill as drafted will also provide for the investigation, supervision, coordination, monitoring, and evaluation of, and participation in, local content in Guyana as well as to promote competitiveness and encourage the creation of related industries that will sustain the social and economic development of the country.
The government had scrapped an earlier document created by the former APNU+AFC government for what it complained was the lack of initiatives for local participation in the sector.
Just after taking office, the President established a Local Content Panel to review policy initiatives on local content in the Petroleum sector and provide guidance for the development of Guyana’s local content policy and legislation.