National Assembly green lights Electronic Communications and Transactions Bill

Guyanese will now benefit from secure implementation of electronic commerce, with the passage of the Electronic Communications and Transactions Bill of 2023.

The revolutionary bill was given the green light by the National Assembly on Thursday, at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre.

The bill paves the way for advanced and more efficient transactions countrywide, through the authentication of electronic transactions.  

Minister of Tourism, Industry and Commerce, Oneidge Walrond

Having information stored and disseminated electronically has many advantages, which include increased efficiency, affordability, and ease of access.

However, Guyana lacked the legal framework to regulate, validate and recognise electronic communications, transactions, transfers, and payments.

This deficiency has hindered the development of e-commerce, as well as the implementation of e-governance. Hence, the passage of this bill proves essential to advancing a digital economy.

Presenting the bill for its second reading, Minister of Tourism, Industry and Commerce, Oneidge Walrond identified the bill as an essential requirement in Guyana’s regulatory framework.

“All of these initiatives, legislative and otherwise are part of a comprehensive whole that is designed to facilitate modernisation of the state and make it responsive to the demands of the 21st century,” she said.

The fundamental architecture of the legislation makes three essential provisions namely legal recognition of electronic transactions, specification of technology requirements, and the establishment of an administrative framework.

However, the bill does not apply to certain sensitive transactions such as the making of wills, and the conveyance or transfer of any interest in movable or immovable property.

“These exceptions preserve, for the time being, the conventional requirements with respect to these especially sensitive transactions, until such time as we are confident of our ability to manage the institutional environment to a standard that we deem appropriate to treat them with,” the tourism minister explained.

Prime Minister, Brigadier (Ret’d) Mark Phillips

Meanwhile, Prime Minister, Brigadier (Ret’d) Mark Phillips, said the bill aims to foster trust and confidence in electronic transactions, while safeguarding the integrity of Guyana’s digital ecosystem.

“This bill sets the stage for the legal recognition of electronic communications and transactions, signaling government’s commitment to embracing technological advancement. It ensures that electronic records hold the same legal standing as the paper counterpart, thus installing confidence in businesses and individuals to embrace electronic methods of communication and record-keeping,” he said.

Moreover, to accommodate citizens who may not have access to electronic means of communication, transaction and record-keeping, the bill also emphasises the need for access to information in hard-copy form when required.

“This measure ensures that these citizens are not left behind in this digital transformation, and ensures that all citizens can participate in this digital era,” PM Phillips added.

Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall, SC

This bill is also expected to facilitate the implementation of e-governance, providing the platform to enhance the efficient delivery of government services, especially with regards to electronic record-keeping and retrieval.  

Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall, SC, shared similar sentiments on the bill.

“Our government has made a pledge that we will modernise the country’s landscape and make Guyana part and parcel oof the modern world. This bill is a fundamental step in that direction,” he added.