Guyana’s ‘pragmatic’ local content policy

DPI/GINA, Saturday, June 24, 2017

Guyana’s Local Content Policy encompasses existing realities with the aim of improving skills in the future, according to oil expert and consultant on the policy Anthony Paul. Concerns over what Guyana’s Local Content Policy should entail have been discussed since the country’s significant oil find in 2015.

The government is expected to finalise its Local Content Policy by August and Paul, who is a consultant with the Ministry of Natural Resources on that Policy said it has taken the Guyanese reality into context.

Anthony Paul, consultant to the Ministry of Natural Resources on the Local Content Policy

“It lays out the context; Guyana has limited number of people, limited skills, limited experience therefore there’s a growth path and lays out how we do it and then it says how you make sure it gets done,” Paul told the Department of Public Information/Government Information Agency (DPI/GINA) in a recent interview.

Paul noted that the policy is pragmatic. “We have to understand what’s needed, build the capacity; you have to make sure that the companies in procuring goods and services target the locals to get them to participate and building support systems to improve their performance,” Paul explained.

He pointed out this requires a holistic approach and prudent management by the government. “The Ministry of Finance has to understand where the bottlenecks are for local content and make special provisions for that. The Ministry of Education has to understand that the skill needs are going to be different,” Paul explained.

There is a review mechanism built into the policy so adjustments can be made as the oil and gas sector expands Paul said. The Minister of Natural Resources had previously told DPI/GINA that a draft of the Policy has been shared with the local business community.

Paul cautions the expectation of immediate benefit from Guyana’s new oil and gas sector. “The temptation is to show people benefits. That can lead to all kinds of behaviours, now what a country like Guyana has to say is listen we could do all kinds of things now and damage our children’s future or we can manage this for our children’s benefit,” he pointed out.

He noted that Policy is crafted in such a way to develop opportunities for skills that can be used across sectors. “It’s finding the opportunities to increase capacity that can support the sector that can be used in other sectors. So we talk about it, the backhaul linkages, linking to services and the lateral linkages, linking to ancillary industries or other industries that can support it,” Paul said.

Anthony Paul is a renowned energy expert with 38 years of experience in the sector.  The Trinidad and Tobago national has served as an advisor to governments new to the oil and gas industry across the world.

By: Tiffny Rhodius