Though the Local Content Secretariat has boasted of granting more than 350 local content certificates since the Act was operationalised, Acting Chief Justice Roxane George has raised a red flag on the Local Content Act for catering for “no regulations and no rules”.
While handing down her ruling in the Ramps Logistics case on Friday, the Chief Justice said the Act is deficient.
“The Act maybe deficient. As a matter of fact, this Act has no regulations, no rules. It has no regulations whatsoever,” the acting Chief Justice told the Solicitor General moments before she ordered the Local Content Secretariat to grant a certificate for the Ramps company since it has satisfied all requirements in the Act.
The Solicitor General Nigel Hawke admitted to the Court that there are no regulations accompanying the Act.
“The Local Content Act clearly needs regulations so as to prevent arbitrary decision,” the acting Chief Justice said.
In her ruling she pointed out that during the course of the case, the Local Content Secretariat alluded to a Form C, which comprised a list of requirements but she noted that the document “has no statutory basis.”
As she scrutinized the Affidavit in Defence submitted by the Director of the Local Content Secretariat, Martin Pertab, the Chief Justice questioned why Mr Pertab had indicated to Ramps Logistics that it was not necessary for the company to register with the Secretariat.
In response, the Solicitor General explained that a Certificate of Registration was not necessary for the company to operate within Guyana’s Oil and Gas Sector, though admitting that in the absence of such a document, local companies may find it difficult to secure certain contracts.
Ramps Logistics moved to the Court after its application for a Certificate of Registration was rejected and there was no response to its resubmitted application.
On Friday, the Chief Justice, in grilling the Solicitor General on the matter, pointed to the fact that the Secretariat has admitted that the company met the 51% requirement with respect to Guyanese ownership.
Interjecting, Mr Hawke said the company had only met the requirement after the resubmission of it’s application but Justice George responded with a “no.”
The Local Content Act was rushed through the National Assembly and hailed by the local private sector, though there were some concerns about it.