Laws for local content, oil wealth fund for National Assembly on Dec. 16

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By Vishani Ragobeer

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The necessary laws for the integration of Guyanese into the country’s nascent oil and gas industry and for the sound management of the oil monies will finally be taken to the National Assembly on December 16.

This was revealed by Vice President Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo on Thursday night during his feature address at the annual Awards Ceremony and Gala Dinner of the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) held at the Pegasus Hotel in Georgetown.

The two pieces of legislation that will be tabled in the National Assembly are the new Local Content legislation and the proposed amendments to the Natural Resource Funds (NRF) Act.

Both pieces of legislation are crucial to the sound management of the oil and gas sector, in particular. Dr. Jagdeo said that the Local Content legislation is meant to strike a balance in progressively integrating more and more Guyanese workers and businesses into the oil and gas sector.

On the amendments to the NRF Act, Dr. Jagdeo highlighted that the government was sticking to its commitment of introducing imprisonment for non-disclosure of revenues coming from the industry and reducing the interface between politicians and oil companies.

To this end, he announced that there will be changes to the oversight committee which currently comprises 22 organisations.There will also be a Board of Directors that separated the subject Minister and the Management of the Fund.

And, all monies received must be disclosed to the public and published in the Official Gazette. If this is not done, the Minister of Finance could face 10 years’ jail time.

President Dr. Irfaan Ali had promised that these two pieces of legislation would be presented to the legislative body before the end of this year. And in October, President Ali said Guyana will receive extensive assistance from experts in Ghana to finalise both pieces of legislation.

The National Assembly will return from its parliamentary recess on Monday (December 13). As per the order paper, there has been no indication that the oil laws will be tabled. Earlier on Thursday, however, the Minister of Natural Resources Vickram Bharrat said that there will be other sittings of the Assembly in December, to allow the government to keep President Ali’s commitment.

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