The coalition Government is still to state if it will tap into the expertise of an international group which helps countries in the successful renegotiation of contracts on a pro bono basis. The group is called, the International Senior Lawyers Project (ISLP).
Over the past 17 years, with support from law firms, foundations and government agencies, ISLP has mobilized hundreds of experienced lawyers to provide more than $100 million worth of pro bono legal assistance in support of just, accountable and inclusive development in more than 80 countries.
The Project was successful in helping Liberia renegotiate its contracts with ArcelorMittal S.A., a German-based steel manufacturing company and American company Firestone Tire and Rubber.
According to the Project’s website, former Board Chair and current Board Member Joe Bell received a letter from former President of Liberia Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, thanking him for ISLP’s legal assistance following her election and in the years that immediately followed.
The letter from the former President read, “When our administration commenced in 2006 and was faced with a collapsed economy and dysfunctional institutions, we reached out for support in evaluating and renegotiating concession agreements and contracts and we quickly received the assistance required.
“This resulted in the landmark renegotiation of the Firestone and Arcelor Mittal Concession Agreements with significant improved benefit to Liberia.”
“Throughout the twelve years of the Administration, ISLP provided pro bono service as requested in a wide range of endeavors, including those that required a restructuring and regularization of the country’s nascent petroleum exploration programmes…
The group has also helped other countries across the world in the renegotiation of oil contracts.
ISLP is also no stranger to Guyana as it has provided support to the Attorney General’s Office for the review of Guyana’s Cyber Crime Bill and Electronic Transactions Bill.
CALL FOR RENEGOTIATION
Local commentators have also expressed concern over the lopsided deal Guyana signed with ExxonMobil, especially when it is compared with the agreement Exxon Mobil signed onto with the African country, Ghana.
The glaring disparities between the two contracts also underscore the need for the Guyana-ExxonMobil contract to be scrutinized by Parliament, critics say.
The Ghanaian contract for example, has an entire section dedicated to procurement laws, which ExxonMobil must follow at all times. Those provisions are in place to ensure that a significant number of the local companies are able to benefit from the nation’s oil sector.
On the other hand, Guyana’s contract mentions nothing about procurement laws.
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