By Abena Rockcliffe-Campbell
How can the governing officials of a country depending on oil to improve its economy still sit back comfortably with the existence of “outdated, inadequate” petroleum legislation on its books?
That is essentially the concern of attorney-at-law and chartered accountant, Christopher Ram.
There are pieces of petroleum legislation that haven’t been amended since 1986. Ram thinks that this should not be the case.
He posits that this state of affairs is bad for Guyana. He said that it is bad whether the status quo remains, as a result of contentment of ignorance.
In recent writings, Ram said, “One of my biggest disappointments is that the Cabinet, which includes several lawyers, has not made any amendments to or repealed and replaced the existing statutory framework which therefore remains outdated and inadequate.”
Ram said that the Constitution in itself has to be updated.
Ram then pointed to the Petroleum Production Act, Cap. 65:05 which he noted is down to two sections.
The Petroleum Production Act, Cap. 65:05 vests in the State “the property in petroleum and natural gas within Guyana and to make provision with respect to the search for and getting of petroleum and natural gas, and for purposes connected with the matters aforesaid”.
The Act is of 18th November, 1939 and was last amended 1986.
Ram also pointed to the Petroleum Exploration and Production Act Cap. 65:04 – this became legislation in 1986 and was amended in 1992 and 1997.
The Petroleum Exploration and Production Act outlines the regulations that companies and individuals are to be guided by – some of which may be outdated. It makes provisions for the Chief Inspector and other inspectors, restriction of disclosure of information, prohibition against holding license etc., by certain persons, indemnity and service of documents.
There is also the Petroleum (Exploration and Production) Regulations 1986 (Regulations 5 of 1986).
Ram said, “What is particularly troubling is that apart from Local Content legislation which can be made under the existing Act, the Government has not articulated any legislative intent or agenda for the sector. It is equally bad, whether this is a sign of satisfaction with the status quo or a confused state of mind.”
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