Judgment on validity of Guyana’s oil fund law set for March

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Come March 17, 2023, Guyana’s High Court Judge, Navindra Singh is expected to hand down his ruling in the challenge to the passage of the Natural Resource Fund (NRF) Bill.

Opposition Chief Whip, Christopher Jones and Trade Unionist Norris Witter, have together approached the High Court to contest the validity of the Natural Resource Fund Act which was passed by the National Assembly last December.

In their civil action, the applicants claim that the parliamentary procedure necessary for the passage of the law was not followed on December 29, 2021, due to the absence of the Speaker’s Mace. 

The Speaker, Manzoor Nadir, had allowed the vote to proceed with a smaller replacement Mace and held a press conference the day after the parliamentary session to confirm that the law was legally passed.

The respondents, on December 30, closed their case with testimony from a Videography Manager from the Department of Public Information (DPI) who was there when the events unfolded that day. 

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Both the claimants and respondents were ordered to file written submissions and reply by February 20, 2023.

Justice Singh will deliver his ruling on March 17, 2023 at 09:00 AM.

Attorney General, Anil Nandlall and the Senior Minister in the Office of the President with responsibility for Finance, Dr. Ashni Singh, have asked the High Court to throw out the case.

In its affidavit of defence, which was submitted to Justice Singh, the government said that the NRF Bill was “lawfully, validly and properly” passed in the National Assembly. 

The  bill governs the rules for the safekeeping of Guyana’s oil revenues.

The government believes the evidence furnished by Jones and Witter to support the challenge is insufficient.

In the circumstances, they are asking the court to refuse all the orders being sought and challenged, with substantial costs.

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