Gov’t agrees to 10 of 14 Opposition amendments in Local Content Bill

Minister of Natural Resources, Vickram Bharrat, M.P., announced this morning that the government has agreed to 10 out of the 14 amendments for the Local Content Bill that were put forward by the Opposition, APNU+AFC. Minister Bharrat shared this news on Wednesday when he opened the debates on the Local Content Bill in the National Assembly.

The Natural Resources Minister stated that one of the accepted amendments includes changing the name of the Inter-Agency Committee to Local Content Oversight Committee. This committee, he said, will be tasked with ensuring the monitoring of local content commitments. The government agreed to allow an Opposition Member of Parliament (M.P) to sit on this body, he added.  

Minister of Natural Resources, Hon. Vickram Bharrat M.P. during Wednesday’s debate in the National Assembly

Another amendment includes the publishing of the Local Content Secretariat on the website of the ministry responsible for petroleum or any other media in wide circulation on the Local Content Register, which shall be updated quarterly. Further, the changes state that a contractor, sub-contractor or licencee without the written permission of the minister acting on the advice of the Secretariat and the Local Content Oversight Committee, shall not enter into any contract in excess of three years; it also calls for the choosing of members from 10 different local agencies, including the National Toshaos Council, Transparency International Guyana Incorporated, and the Guyana Bar Association.

This Committee shall consist of not more than seven members appointed by the President. The Opposition proposes that these nominations arise from the 10 agencies listed in the document.

The Opposition also proposed the changing of the Local Content Bill’s definition of a Guyanese national to mean a citizen of Guyana by birth.

However, Minister Bharrat was quick to air the government’s disapproval of this proposed amendment. Further to this, Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Mohabir Anil Nandlall, S.C., M.P., said that for the Opposition to make this recommendation, it would be “highly discriminatory” and “myopic”.

“That is only one aspect, one way in which you get citizenship. You have citizenship by marriage, citizenship by naturalization, you have citizenship by descent,” the Attorney General said. 

During his presentation, Minister Bharrat also shared that the government made attempts to discuss with the APNU+AFC, its amendments proposed on the Bill. He added that a meeting was scheduled for Wednesday morning before the debates between the Minister of Natural Resources; Minister Nandlall, as well as the Senior Minister in the Office of the President with responsibility for Finance, Dr. Ashni Singh, M.P., and MPs from the other side. That meeting, however, never materialised and the Minister added that the Opposition asked that the matter be dealt with during the parliamentary session.

Debates continue on this Bill in the National Assembly to ensure prudent management of Guyana’s oil and gas industry.