TO maximise the benefits stemming from their burgeoning oil and gas sectors and other developments across both economies, Guyana and Suriname will be establishing a common local content platform, President, Dr. Irfaan Ali, has said.
“We are not in competition, we are on a journey of co-operation to maximise the benefits for people… and in order to ensure we do it successfully, we would need to have synergies in terms of infrastructure and the use,” the President said during a joint press conference at the Arthur Chung Conference, on Thursday.
The press conference followed intense discussions over the past three days among local stakeholders and a delegation from Suriname, led by that nation’s President, Chandrikapersad Santokhi.
Ultimately, the objective of enhanced collaboration between the two countries is to improve lives for all citizens through social and economic benefits.
Those benefits are expected to be derived from projects such as the bridging of the Corentyne River to connect the two countries, the establishment of a trade facilitation committee, the creation of a joint strategy to develop the oil and gas sectors and a common “gas strategy”, among other things.
Specifically on oil and gas, President Ali said while the development of the industry is paramount, there will be great focus on developing the capacity of the human resources to meet the industry’s requirements.
In Guyana, there are already ongoing discussions on the creation of a Local Content Policy, which will guide the participation in the oil and gas sector and other economic sectors. This policy, according to authorities, would ultimately form the basis for local content legislation.
To participate in various sectors, it is obvious that persons would have to be trained and qualified. So, cognisant of this, the government announced its plans to establish a world class Oil and Gas Institute, while several private sector organisations have also invested in training for Guyanese.
There is more in store for Guyana in the area of training and capacity-building, as the Surinamese government is offering on-the-job training for persons, through its oil and gold company, Staatsolie. The company offers advanced certification in key areas within the oil and gas industry.
Outside of training and capacity-building, there will also be benefits for players in the private sector, not just in the oil and gas sector, but on a wider scale.
The plan, as announced by both Heads of State, is to reduce red tape in the system by creating a joint Trade Facilitation Committee.
Though discussions are in the preliminary stages, the committee, once established, will be tasked with making commercial activities between the two countries easier and hassle-free. The Trade Facilitation Committee would supplement a protocol concerning the Trade in Fresh Agricultural Produce, which was signed by Guyana’s Minister of Agriculture, Zulfikar Mustapha, and Suriname’s Minister of Agriculture, Animal Husbandry and Fisheries, Parmanand Sewdien.
The protocol would see the two nations assisting each other to access new markets as they seek to trade agricultural produce. Guyana would benefit from Suriname’s access to the European market, while Suriname would benefit from Guyana’s access to the North American market.
The agriculture protocol and other human resource development measures, announced by Presidents Ali and Santokhi, constitute local content.
Speaking more about the nations’ plans for development, President Ali said: “We are also examining and have decided that we will create a local content platform that would support both countries in terms of the opportunities that could come from other areas [outside of oil and gas] of the economy.”
Overall, the objectives of the three-day engagement, which ended on Thursday, were to reduce existing gaps and barriers and create opportunities for co-operation.