Nov 14, 2022 News
..Chief justice warns against arbitrariness in enforcing law
Kaieteur News – Acting Chief Justice Roxane George-Wiltshire on Friday cautioned against arbitrariness due to the lack of rules and regulations in Guyana’s Local Content Act of 2021.
In December 2021, Guyana passed its local content legislation, which caters to locals getting first preference in the country’s oil and gas sector. The Local Content law is intended to regulate the way companies operate in Guyana’s oil and gas sector; employ persons, buy services and the way that they procure goods.
Under the Act, the Local Content Secretariat (the Secretariat) has been established and functions as the focal point for the monitoring, evaluation, coordination, and reporting of Local Content in the petroleum operations of Guyana. Therefore, the Secretariat key role is to monitor and evaluate companies’ performance with respect to the Guyanese utilization targets outlined in the Act.
However, since its passage, there have been several local content issues that were raised by the local businesses and the private sector.
The issue of the lack of rules and regulations in the Local Content Act was raised on Friday by the CJ during a court case, which saw a company challenging and winning to quash the government’s decision to deny it a Local Content Certificate.
“This Act has no rules or regulations and this allows for arbitrariness,” Justice George-Wiltshire said. She explained that the minute the Secretariat realised that they needed certain regulations to better execute the mandate of the Local Content Act, they should have alerted the Attorney General Chambers to get those regulations implemented.
“The Local Content Act clearly needs regulations so as to prevent arbitrary decision-making,” she further stated.
After reviewing the company and the government’s submissions to the court, the Chief Justice ruled that Director of the Secretariat, Dr. Martin Pertab has until noon on Monday November 14, 2022, to issue a Local Content Certificate to Ramps Logistics or else he will be held in contempt of court.
Ramps Logistics, which is originally from Trinidad and Tobago had registered under Guyana’s Companies Act, but was denied a Local Content Certificate as required under the Act, for purportedly not being a ‘Guyanese company.’
Contentions surfaced over the manner in which foreign companies are now using Guyanese nationals to fulfill their local content requirement for the company to be 51 percent locally owned. Ramps for instance, provided detailed information to the Secretariat regarding Deepak Lall, a Trinidadian born with strong Guyanese roots who purchased 51 percent of Ramps Guyana for US$1M, making it 51 percent Guyanese owned.
However, in June 2022, the company’s application for a certificate was denied and this led to them challenging the decision in court.
During oral arguments on Friday, General Solicitor Nigel Hawke, who represented the State, admitted to the court that a company does not need a certificate in order to operate within the oil and gas sector – this too, was pointed out by the Director in his affidavits of defence. As such, the CJ questioned that if a company does not need the certificate to operate in the energy sector, “Why have the Act?”
The Chief Justice pointed out that while the Respondents in their affidavits highlighted that the Ramps Chief Executive Officer (CEO) is before the court facing criminal charges – the Act does not make mention of criminal charges being taken into consideration when a applying for a certificate – and that the criminal charges were filed months after Ramps approached the High Court. However, Hawke contended that the criminal charges being mentioned, goes to conduct.
Additionally, the Chief Justice noted that while the Respondents contended that Ramps did not meet the requirements under ‘Form C’; she highlighted that ‘Form C’ was not exhibited to the court, and also that it was not a part of the law that governs local content. To this end, the General Solicitor accepted that all that was requested by the Secretariat under its ‘Form C’ is not required by law under the Local Content Act.
The Chief Justice later ruled that there was no evidence submitted by the Respondents to show that Ramps did not meet the requirements under the Local Content Act so as to be classified as a Guyanese company. As such, the CJ noted that she have considered and concluded that Ramps satisfied the requirements of the Local Content Act. The Chief Justice further pointed out that the ‘Form C’ which have a list of requirements that the Director referred to in his Affidavit of Defence, have no statutory basis.
The Chief Justice granted a declaration that Ramps satisfied the statutory requirements and preconditions necessary for the grant of the Certificate of Registration, a declaration that Ramps Logistics as a Guyanese company is entitled to be issued a Certificate of Registration and to be entered into the local content register; and a declaration that the decision by Minister Bharrat and/or Dr. Pertab and/or the Secretariat to refuse to grant a certificate or registration to Ramps is unlawful, illegal, null, void and of no legal effect.
The other two declarations that the CJ granted was that the decision of the State officials or State agency misconstrued or misapplied Section 2A1 and 2A2 of the Act and that they breached Section 6 of the Act when it refused to grant the certificate to Ramps Logistics.
In addition, the Chief Justice granted a certiorari to quash the decision of Minister Bharrat and/or Dr. Pertab and/or the Secretariat to refuse to issue a certificate to Ramps and an order of mandamus directing the Director to register and issue a Certificate of Registration to Ramps Logistics on or before noon on November 14, 2022. The CJ noted that if the Director fails to do so he will be held in contempt and imprisoned and/or fined.
Nov 28, 2022Team Suriname will head back to Paramaribo today with the Inter Guiana Games (IGG) trophy in tow after clinching the overall title when the curtains came down on the historic games last evening at...
Nov 28, 2022
Nov 28, 2022
Nov 28, 2022
Nov 28, 2022
Nov 28, 2022
Kaieteur News – When the APNU+AFC came to power, I told Khemraj Ramjattan who was made Minister of Home Affairs that... more
Freedom of speech is our core value at Kaieteur News. If the letter/e-mail you sent was not published, and you believe that its contents were not libellous, let us know, please contact us by phone or email.
Feel free to send us your comments and/or criticisms.
Contact: 624-6456; 225-8452; 225-8458; 225-8463; 225-8465; 225-8473 or 225-8491.
Or by Email: [email protected] / [email protected]