Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Guyana can opt-out of CARICOM Treaty obligations if Local Content law is challenged – Datadin

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For those seeking to mount any legal challenge to Guyana’s Local Content Act, Member of Parliament (MP) and Attorney-at-Law, Sanjeev Datadin has categorically stated that such entities would be doing so at their own peril since the government will not hesitate to protect the interest of the Guyanese people. He said this can be done by opting out of obligations of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas, the central document which establishes the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).

The government MP made these and other statements on his Facebook account on Tuesday.

His assertion was made in light of an article published Sunday last in a Trinidadian newspaper about the legality of the Local Content Law, with a detailed focus on its compliance with the Treaty.

In his opening statements on the said news item, Datadin said, “…The attitude in some quarters seems to be that Trinidad’s involvement in Guyana’s oil sector, by virtue of them being a historical oil producer, was somehow pre-ordained and unstoppable. However, the writer of that article ignored, entirely, the mood and sentiment of the Guyanese people and the resolve of the Government of Guyana on this issue.”

He added, “It was ignored that the people of Guyana are firm that they must benefit more than tangentially or on the fringes; their benefit must be real and substantial. This involvement is seen as the path to lift an entire nation from a poor developing nation to a prosperous nation. It ignores totally, the determination of the present Government to deliver on its promises.”

Datadin categorically stated that all and sundry must know that the resolve of the Government of Guyana, in implementing and supporting the Local Content law, is unshakable and stressed that any challenge will be met with a determined resolve.

To this end, Datadin highlighted the legal maneuvering that can be executed by the government as regards its Treaty obligations. The lawyer explained that every Member State can issue a reservation and/or opt-out of Treaty obligations at its discretion.

“The Caribbean Court of Justice in an Advisory Opinion (AOOJ2019/001) in an examination of opt-out powers as set out in Article 27(4) of the RTC made clear that a reservation to any treaty obligation can be unilaterally done whilst to opt-out of treaty obligation it required consent of the other Member States. The reality is that Guyana can enter a reservation to the relevant part of the RTC and/ or opt out; depending on the prevailing circumstances,” he said.

The politician added, “This may be sought for a period of years deemed sufficient for the Guyanese sector to mature and be able to compete with foreign businesses. It is well known that Bahamas has taken itself out of the CSME and does not allow free movement of CARICOM Nationals, and; Antigua and Barbuda and St. Kitts and Nevis have opted out of the free movement of skilled labour (security guards and agricultural workers) in 2019…”

Datadin said it is therefore an inescapable reality that it is the fair and right thing to do to allow Guyanese to benefit from their oil resources in a preferential manner. Datadin said this is not to say that Guyana’s CARICOM neighbors are not welcomed. Be that as it may, he emphatically stated that there must be respect for the country’s Local Content legislation.

The lawyer noted that the benefit to CARICOM brothers simply cannot be at the expense or marginalisation of Guyanese nationals and companies.

He said therefore, “Those who seek to challenge the Local Content Act in Court do so at their own peril… Make no mistake, Guyana will assert her sovereignty and right to choose in coming days and, likely, if necessary, adjust her Treaty obligations to remove any possible conflict, real or perceived.”

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