Aug 07, 2020 News Comments Off on New arbitration act needed for oil industry
– Attorney General, Anil Nandlall
A new arbitration act is needed to form part of the repertoire the new People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPP/C) Government intends to modernize and employ to prudently manage the petroleum sector.
Attorney General (AG), Anil Nandlall, told reporters at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre (ACCC) on Wednesday that arbitration has to be taken to a modern level.
“Most of these big oil companies,” he said, “may wish not to go to Court but to resolve their differences at the level of arbitration. That is how it’s being done in the modern world.”
He described the current arbitration infrastructure as “basically non-existent” and said that the justice system has to be enhanced to handle the new challenges the oil industry brings.
Nandlall said that the government also intends to revise the petroleum bill “that has been in Parliament for nearly two years now,” explaining that it is one of the most important legislative frameworks required.
The financial and environmental laws, the AG said, also must be modernized to go hand in hand with the industry.
“We need to modernize our financial sector to go hand in hand with that industry. That has to be done by legislation. We have an environmental issue that we have to address. This thing here, the new industry will excite different environmental challenges. We have to get legislation in that direction.”
Nandlall also expressed concerns about the legality of the Natural Resource Fund Act, which was passed in 2019, after the former APNU+AFC government was defeated by a Motion of No Confidence in the National Assembly. The PPP/C has committed to repealing and replacing the Act.
While he said Government is yet to work out how Parliament will operate in the age of COVID-19, the AG said that it will ensure it improves on the former Government’s track record, which he said showed no proper legislative agenda to manage the sector. Some of the laws have not been reviewed in decades.
The former Government had hired an American firm, Hunton, Andrews, Kurth LLP to review the nation’s legislative framework where the oil industry is concerned. It is expected to work in concert with local firm, Cameron and Shepherd. However, there is no petroleum policy in place to guide the review. The contract is projected to last one year, at a cost of US$1.2M under a US$20M World Bank loan. The firm is also expected to exact a wide sweep of the sector’s needs.
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