Trinidadian-headquarted company Ramps Logistics, which offers supply chain management services in Guyana, must be issued its Local Content Certificate and entered on the Local Content Register, the High Court has ruled.
The ruling was delivered by Chief Justice (ag) Roxane George on Friday after hearing arguments from Ramps Logistics that the State’s decision to deny its application for entry on the register and non-issuance of certificate is “unlawful, unreasonable and arbitrary.”
In June, 2022, the company complained of being denied a local content certificate, which it needs to operate in Guyana’s energy sector, despite following all required guidelines.
Ramps had sold 51 percent of the company to a Trinidad-born businessman, Deepak Lall, who has Guyanese parentage, with the intention of qualifying to be on the register which would guarantee access to a schedule of services set aside for Guyanese.
The company moved to the courts for judicial review of the decision to not grant them the certificate and listed the Minster of Natural Resources, the Local Content Secretariat (LCS), and the Attorney General as respondents to the matter.
In her preliminary ruling, the Chief Justice (ag) highlighted that Ramps Logistics satisfied the statutory requirements and preconditions necessary for the issuance of the Certificate of Registration under section 6 (2) of the Local Content Act 2021.
The section explicitly notes that “a Guyanese national and Guyanese companies may apply for and be issued with a certificate of registration in a manner and form prescribed by the Secretariat.”
She noted that the Minister of Natural Resources and/or the Local Content Secretariat breached section 6 of the Act when Ramps Logistics was refused the Certificate of Registration.
She also ruled that the Minister of Natural Resources and/or the Local Content Secretariat have misconstrued and/or misapplied Section 2 (a) (i) and 2 (a) (ii) of the Act which defines what constitutes a “Guyanese company”.
Following her findings, the Chief Justice (ag) ruled that based on the evidence produced to the court, Ramps Logistics is entitled to be issued a Certificate of Registration and to be entered into the Local Content Register.
“There is no evidence submitted by the respondents to counter the information provided by the applicant, which I have considered and concluded, satisfied and satisfies the requirements of the Local Content Act,” the Chief Justice said.
Therefore, she held that the decision of the Minister of Natural Resources and/or the Local Content Secretariat to refuse to grant Ramps Logistics the certificate is unlawful, illegal, null, void, and have no effect.
Accordingly, the Chief Justice granted an order quashing the decision of the Minister of Natural Resouces and/or the Local Content Secretariat to refuse to grant the certificate and ordered that the certificate is issued.
The Director of the Local Content Secretariat, Martin Pertab is ordered to issue the Certificate of Registration on or before Monday November 14, 2022 or risk being held liable in contempt of court and imprisoned and/or fined.
The Chief Justice noted that the Minister of Natural Resources has no authority under the Act to make a decision whether to grant or refuse an application for a Certificate of Registration under the Act.
In her ruling, the Chief Justice noted that the Local Content Act “clearly needs” regulations to prevent arbitrary decision-making.