Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Bill strikes balance between interest of oil companies, local businesses – Attorney General

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While he considers the Local Content Bill 2021 to be one of the most important pieces of legislation since Guyana’s independence, Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall recently praised the Bill for striking a balance between the interests of the business community and industry operators while acknowledging the nation’s deficiencies.

Expounding on this front, Nandlall said on one hand, there is a part of the sector that believes there should be no local content.

“They believe they should be allowed contractual freedom to operate in their sector as they wish, to procure goods and services from whom they wish, hire whom they wish, and pay them whatever remuneration they wish. So that is one extremity. On the other extreme you have a local business community that believes, and rightfully so, that they should predominate the sector; that they should provide all the employment needs of the sector. But neither is possible,” expressed the Legal Affairs Minister.

Nandlall said the government therefore has to chart a course that strikes a vital balance in these competing interests and produce what is considered to be in the best interest of the country and at the same time, in the best interest of the sector.

Nandlall said, “We want the sector to succeed for the benefit of all, so the government proceeds or has proceeded, and will continue to operate upon those fundamental axes.”

The Attorney General said too that one ought to recognize that Guyana has a young society, and it is very new to the oil sector.  “So, we can’t provide all the needs of the sector. We wish we could, and we hope to get there, and the Bill has mechanisms that provide for sector building capacities, but until we get there, we must accept those limitations and constraints,” he stated.

At the same time, Nandlall noted that the Bill moves citizens’ involvement in the sector from zero at an institutional level to a high level of participation with due regard to capacity to perform and provide the relevant goods and services.

Importantly, Nandlall said operators of the sector must also recognize that the resources belong to the people of Guyana and therefore, the people must be accorded as far as possible, the highest priority in the operation of the sector. He said therefore, wherever there are opportunities, those which can be fuelled and furnished by a local, then that is where the sector must draw from. Where Guyanese cannot provide the service then the companies are free to go elsewhere.

“So those are the fundamental principles that inform the Bill,” the Attorney General concluded.

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