Opposition’s amendment to Local Content Bill would have created second class citizens – Minister Walrond

Minister of Tourism, Industry and Commerce, Oneidge Walrond, M.P., pointed out that an amendment of the Local Content Bill, which was proposed by the Opposition, would have created second class citizens.

The amendment in question was proposed by Opposition Member of Parliament (M.P.), David Patterson. He proposed that the term “Guyanese national” should mean a citizen of Guyana, only by birth. The proposed amendment was rejected by the National Assembly.

Minister of Tourism, Industry and Commerce, Oneidge Walrond, M.P., takes the stand in support of Local Content Bill 2021

This proposed amendment, Minister Walrond noted, would have created a moral quagmire. She reminded that the Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Mohabir Anil Nandlall, S.C., M.P., addressed this in his arguments in support of the Bill.

The AG said that a Guyanese citizen is defined by the Constitution and the Citizenship Act. While birth is one way for a person to become a Guyanese citizen, the Legal Affairs Minister said that citizenship can also be obtained by marriage, naturalisation or descent.

“This myopic recommendation is highly discriminatory,” Minister Nandlall said.

In her comments, Minister Walrond registered the government’s disappointment at what appears to be a lack of effort from the Opposition’s side on the amendments proposed.

“Instead of rising to the occasion, we have the same old, same old.”

Some amendments, she said, pander to populism without considering the reality of the situation. The government has tabled 10 amendments which were made by the Opposition, to be examined in Parliament.

“This Bill with these provisions, must be recognised as significant, consequential and impactful. Hundreds of Guyanese have the opportunity to access markets that just did not exist for them before.”

Minister Walrond said it is fundamental in importance and in nature.

The Bill is the first ever local content legislation to be tabled in the National Assembly, despite the fact that it has been six years since Guyana discovered oil.

While the previous administration oversaw the formulation of policies, they failed to capture the confidence and support of key stakeholders and never brought any of the documents to the legislation stage.

Minister Walrond emphasised that the Local Content Bill 2021 is a landmark Bill, which provides a game-changing and truly exceptional opportunity to shape the course of Guyana’s history by mandating that Guyanese participate in, and benefit from the exploitation of significant oil and gas discoveries.

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