NY Democracy group supports Guyana’s Local Content & NRF legislation

The New York-based Guyana Democracy Project (NY GDP), in a statement on Thursday, expressed support for Guyana’s newly-passed Local Content and Natural Resource Fund (NRF) Bills, which puts the legal framework in place to govern the country’s oil and gas sector in an accountable and transparent manner and for the benefit of all Guyanese.

Natural Resources Minister Vickram Bharrat displays the passed bill on Wednesday at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre

Noting that the former A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) Administration did not prepare a Local Content Bill for the nascent energy industry in its five years in office, the NY GDP says such legislation to include Guyanese as the primary beneficiaries of the oil and gas sector was “long overdue”.
In this regard, the organisation applauded the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Administration for taking the “bold and decisive steps” towards the inclusion of locals in the industry.
Guyana finally has much-anticipated local content laws after the Local Content Bill was approved in the National Assembly on Wednesday with the inclusion of 10 of the 14 amendments that were proposed by the APNU/AFC Opposition.
In underscoring the importance of such laws, the NY GDP organisation highlighted that several countries that recently found oil and gas have prepared local content laws to deal with various aspects of production and shore base support such as contracts, bidding practices and materials used in the industry including supply of food.
“Such legislation boosts local job creation and domestic Private Sector, facilitates technology transfer, and builds a competitive local workforce,” the group noted.
According to the NY GDP, Guyana’s Local Content legislation is consistent with its “mission to promote good governance, accountability, and democracy” in the country.
The organisation further noted that it has studied the Local Content Bill and reviewed comments from civil society; Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) as well as critics, and has determined that the new law would “meet its specific objectives: include Guyanese partners with foreign investors, create jobs, improve governance and accountability, and promote social and economic development, among other positive outcomes”.
Moreover, the NY-based group commended the Government for accepting the majority of the amendments proposed by the Opposition and for engaging with a wide cross-section of society.
The NY GDP also made note of the NRF Bill, which was passed in the National Assembly amid much ruckus and “thuggish” behaviour from the APNU/AFC Opposition, noting that it was also a step in the right direction.
The organisation reminded that the previous NRF Bill had “many loopholes” that were subjected to “abuse”.
“Essentially, the main features of the PNCR Bill remain intact, except for the governance structure. Unlike in the previous Bill, the Minister of Finance would not have sole authority over the fund. A governance Board of Directors will be set up to manage the fund. All funds will be placed in the Consolidated Account. The Minister of Finance could be jailed if he failed to make public the receipt and withdrawal of funds. And a formula is laid out for the allocation of oil revenues for budget support to promote development projects. These are laudable features,” the organisation highlighted.
As such, the NY GDP said the passage of this new Bill has given Guyanese greater economic opportunities in the oil and gas sector.
“The time for action on Local Content legislation and activating the NRF has long passed so as to ensure domestic economic participation and development and preventing abuse of the Fund,” the organisation posited.
The NY GDP contended that no matter what Bill was prepared, debated, amended or legislated, “there will always be sections of the population not pleased with it”. Notwithstanding, the organisation said “the Local Content and NRF Bills are a very good start”.
Moreover, the NY GDP explained that both pieces are “living documents that can be changed with time”. “And it is anticipated that the legislation will undergo change as the Government and local investors develop capacity in the sector,” the group posited.
Meanwhile, the NY GDP said it consulted with members of the Guyanese Diaspora who have expressed their satisfaction with both the Local Content and NRF Bills.
“They are pleased with provisions in the legislation. And as such, we join with other groups in Guyana in supporting the legislation. We call on all forces in Guyana, including the Opposition, to support the legislation on local content and NRF that will benefit all Guyanese. We should put aside politics and back these pieces of legislation,” the organisation said.