CARICOM Private Sector body objects to Guyana’s Local Content law; Georgetown Chamber President says time to leave CARICOM Single Market

Last Updated on Thursday, 13 January 2022, 4:38 by Denis Chabrol

Timothy Tucker

The Caribbean Private Sector Organisation (CPSO) is objecting to Guyana’s recently-passed Local Content legislation on the grounds that it seems to violate the Caribbean Community’s (CARICOM) free trade rules, a position that has prompted the President of the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Timothy Tucker to call for Guyana to leave the regional single market.

CPSO President, Gervase Warner has stated in an email states that “at the executive committee today, we agreed that the legislation appears to violate several provisions of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas.”  Mr. Warner, who is also the President and Group Chief Executive Officer of the Trinidad-headquartered Massy, said the CPSO would be raising its concerns first with the Guyana government and then “ultimately to the Caribbean Community.”

Chairman of the Beharry Group of Companies, Suresh Beharry has been tasked by the CPSO, a member of the CARICOM Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED),  to reach out to the Guyana government on the issue.

In response, Mr. Tucker protested on his Facebook page late Wednesday night even stating that Guyana should exit the regional single market component of CARICOM.  “If the Trinidad Private Sector or Government wants to challenge Guyana’s Local Content Legislation, it’s time the Guyana Government exit CSME and review the benefits of CARICOM,” he said on his Facebook page. The Bahamas is a CARICOM member in several areas of functional cooperation but not part of the Single Market. He  noted that Guyana has “carved out” 40 of the 200 oil and gas opportunities and “it’s a problem.”

Gervase Warner

Former Chairman of the Private Sector Commission (PSC), Nicholas Deygoo-Boyer strongly suggested that moves to challenge Guyana’s local content legislation were being spearheaded by Trinidad and Tobago. “it would be quite interesting to see such a challenge mounted, as the context of the law, the email and its sender are quite amusing,” he said. “Secondly the sender – the email was sent by someone in a senior role at a regional conglomerate. I am quite interested as to what this conglomerate thinks it would have to gain if they challenged this law. For instance, this same conglomerate ironically benefits from a large number of sales of vehicles to local transportation companies which provide transportation services to the O&G industry,” said Mr. Deygoo-Boyer.

During debate on the Local Content legislation, opposition A Partnership for National Unity+Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) parliamentarian, David Patterson had warned that the legislation appeared to flout the Treaty of Chaguaramas but Attorney General Anil Nandlall had said that that would be addressed if the need arises.  “Mr. Speaker, we have concerns and require clarifications 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 Article 7 of that Treaty- non discrimination,” Mr. Patterson had said. “It is not that we didn’t address our minds to this, Sir. We have addressed our minds to it and when the issue arises, we will deal with it so you have the government’s assurance that we have addressed that issue and we will deal with it at the appropriate time,” Mr. Nandlall had said in his rebuttal.

The CARICOM Treaty of Chaguaramas provides for the free movement of goods, labour, capital and the rights of establishment in the CARICOM Single Market.