Nov 15, 2022 News
⁃ but exploring option to appeal court ruling
Kaieteur News – In keeping with Friday’s court ruling, the Government of Guyana (GoG) on Monday issued a Local Content Certificate to Ramps Logistics Guyana Incorporated – but disclosed that it is exploring the option to appeal the ruling.
This certification means that Ramps is registered in Guyana’s Local Content Registry and is certified to provide goods and services to Guyana’s Oil and Gas Sector. The company can also now seek an extension of its current contract to provide services to ExxonMobil Guyana.
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 Local Content Act of 2021, for purportedly not being a ‘Guyanese company.’
After the Government denied Ramps its certificate, the company challenged the decision in High Court and on Friday, Chief Justice Roxane George-Wiltshire ruled that the Government acted unlawfully when it denied the certificate to Ramps – a company that met requirements under the Local Content Act.
Contentions surfaced over the manner in which foreign companies are now using Guyanese nationals to satisfy the local content requirement for their companies to be 51 percent locally owned. Ramps for instance, provided detailed information to the Local Content 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.
In a statement on Monday the company said, “We are grateful for all who have stood by us during the past few months, especially our team members who have remained strong throughout this process. We remain committed to working with the Local Content Secretariat to develop local content in Guyana and ensure more opportunities within the Oil and Gas sector remain among its people, businesses, and communities.”
For their part, the Ministry of Natural Resources stated that it has taken note of the recent ruling by the Chief Justice and stated, “The Government of Guyana respects the rule of law and the independence of the Judiciary and therefore will comply with the ruling.”
However, the Ministry stated that there are strong concerns as to the eligibility of Ramps application for a local content certificate. As such, it was disclosed that the Government is currently exploring all available options, including an appeal of the ruling.
Additionally, it was noted in the statement that the Government has also taken into consideration the company’s recent settlement with the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) on the matter of tax evasion, as well as the ongoing litigations at the Magistracy level over the alleged false tax declarations to the GRA by Ramps.
However, the Government’s contentions were raised on Friday and the Chief Justice pointed out that the Local Content Legislation does not cater for criminal activity being taken into account when granting a certificate to a company – she also noted that the 10 false declarations charges that were filed against the company’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Shaun Rampersad, came months after the company had approached the High Court.
After reviewing Ramps and the Government’s submissions to the court, the Chief Justice ruled that Director of the Local Content Secretariat, Dr. Martin Pertab had until noon on Monday, November 14, 2022 to issue a Local Content Certificate to Ramps failing which he would be held in contempt of court.
The CJ even cautioned against arbitrariness due to the lack of rules and regulations in Guyana’s Local Content Act.
“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.
Justice George-Wiltshire noted too that the list of requirements under a Form C, that the Secretariat is seeking from companies applying for a certificate, have no statutory basis since it is not a part of the law that governs local content.
The Chief Justice had 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 an order of certiorari quashing 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 – which was complied with.
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 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.
LOOK WHAT YOU’RE GETTING WITH 52%
Dec 08, 2022– Uniforms unveiled for One Guyana President’s Cup By Rawle Toney Kaieteur News – President Irfaan Ali last evening doubled down on the Government of Guyana’s commitment to the...
Dec 08, 2022
Dec 08, 2022
Dec 08, 2022
Dec 08, 2022
Dec 07, 2022
By Sir Ronald Sanders Kaieteur News – (The writer is Antigua and Barbuda’s Ambassador to the United States of America... 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]