GUYANA’s private sector apex body, the Private Sector Commission (PSC), yesterday questioned the “legitimacy” of the Private Sector Organization Caricom (CPSO) after a leaked document said the regional private sector body had raised concerns about the recently approved local content law. in Guyana.
The CPSO is an associated institution of the Caribbean Community (Caricom) invited by regional leaders to engage, “in a formal and structured manner”, with the organs of the Community with the aim of ensuring the full implementation of the Caricom Single Market and Economic (CSME) which allows the free movement of goods, skills, labor and services across the region.
In a statement, the CPS said the focus of local content legislation straddles countries, regions and continents and is integral to the oil industry.
He said he had met to review a statement attributed to CPSO Chairman Gervase Warner, “who is also President and CEO of the Massy Group of Companies in Trinidad and Tobago on the Content Act local Guyana”.
“According to the statement, Mr. Warner proposed that the Caricom Private Sector Organization (CPSO) raise with the Government of Guyana and the Caricom Secretariat what he described as violations of the law with respect to concerns the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas.
“The PSC questions the legitimacy of the CPSO, whose constituency is made up of some pan-Caribbean businesses, noting that the organization does not represent the interests of the local private sector,” the PSC said in its statement.
“The CPS wishes to note, in fact, that Trinidad and Tobago has had in place for over 50 years a local content regime “based on maximizing citizen ownership, control and funding of all activities in the energy resources sector” giving preference to Trinidadians.
“The Commission is satisfied that the policies expressed in Guyana’s Local Content Act are no different from those of Trinidad and Tobago and do not violate the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas,” the CPS said, adding, “We we therefore stand by and fully endorse the aims and purposes of the act, which is intended to ensure that Guyanese companies and nationals benefit from the oil and gas sector.”
The CPS said it welcomes foreign investors and “urges respect for the country’s laws and sovereign space”.
But in a statement, the CPSO said it was aware of “numerous exchanges” in the media here “focusing on routine internal communication from the CPSO President after the CPSO Executive Committee meeting on Wednesday.
“Unfortunately, this communication appears to have been leaked without the benefit of any explanation of context and intent. As is sometimes the case when such leaks occur, there have been many misinterpretations and misrepresentations. statements,” the CPSO said.
“The meeting reached a consensus, in accordance with its mandate, to seek consultations with the office of the President of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana and, depending on the outcome, to raise the matter with the Caricom Secretariat,” said the statement, adding that one of its directors, Suresh Beharry, has been asked to facilitate a meeting between the CPSO and the Office of the President of Guyana to discuss the sensitive issue.
“The fact that the CPSO’s internal communication authored by CPSO President Gervase Warner was contained in an email which, in its signature block, described Mr. Warner’s position as President and Chief leading the Massy group rather than as CPSO president was an unfortunate mistake.
The CPSO said that in view of its mandate and based on the importance of consultations as recognized in the RTC, it “fully intends to seek dialogue ‘with Guyana’ and where political issues merit to be considered by the Community, to engage in such a search for pro-Caricom results.
The online publication based in Guyana, Demerarawaves.com reported that during the local content legislation debate, an opposition lawmaker, David Patterson, warned that the legislation appeared to flout the Chaguaramas Treaty, but Attorney General Anil Nandlall said it would be resolved if the need was felt.
“Mr. President, we have concerns and need clarification and confirmation from the government that this bill will not conflict with other international treaties. Guyana is a signatory to the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas, Sir, and to Article 7 of that treaty – non-discrimination,” Patterson had said.
“It’s not that we haven’t thought of that, sir. We have thought about it and when the issue arises we will deal with it so that you have assurance from the government that we have resolved this issue and will deal with it at the appropriate time,” Nandlall had said in his rebuttal.
Energy Chamber chief executive Thackwray Driver did not respond to a request from Trinidad Express for comment on the matter.