No award of oil blocks before elections

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There can be no award of any oil blocks before the next General Election is held and a government is appointed. This is according to Guyana’s Minister of Legal Affairs and Attorney General, Basil Williams.

Williams iterated this on Monday, August 5, at a forum hosted by the American Chambers of Commerce, Guyana (AMCHAM) where the Caribbean Court of Justice’s Consequential Orders on the No-Confidence Motion case and its implications for business in Guyana was discussed.

In reminding that the Government has accepted its position as an ‘interim’ or ‘caretaker’ Government, Williams stated that the Government cannot sell any oil blocks under the caretaker status.

Speaking on the types of transactions that the Government now has to avoid, Williams said, “giving out blocks…oil blocks, you have to avoid.”

He continued, “All these things were done by the Opposition, just a week or two before they left office and I’m going to deal with that. We’re going to come to the root of that matter because we must put an end to corruption.”

Williams was referring to allegations of impropriety made against the previous administration in the award of oil blocks just prior to demitting office. Former President Donald Ramotar, who held responsibility for petroleum at the time, has said his administration acted in accordance with the law and that applications for the blocks in question were made two to three years before the 2015 elections.

Speaking at the AMCHAM event, the Attorney General said the APNU+AFC coalition government accepts the ruling of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) which stated that “the tenure in office of the Cabinet, including the President, is on a different footing from that which existed prior to the vote of no confidence.”

According to the CCJ ruling, “In mandating that the Government shall remain in office notwithstanding its defeat and the resignation of the President and the Cabinet, Article 106 envisages that the tenure in office of the Cabinet, including the President, after the Government’s defeat, is on a different footing from that which existed prior to the vote of no confidence. Chancellor Cummings-Edwards, citing Hogg , the Canadian constitutional expert, was right to note that: “…The government continues in office as a caretaker government or an interim government until the next elections ensue and a President is appointed (or reappointed) depending on the results of that election.”

The CCJ further declared that, “By convention, the government is expected to behave during this interim period as a caretaker and so restrain the exercise of its legal authority.”

However, the Attorney General assured that members of the private sector are still free to enter into commercial transactions with the Government.

“You can still enter into routine commercial transactions…You can still tender for certain contracts,” he stated.

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