In a key decision this afternoon, Chief Justice (ag) Roxane George ordered the Local Content Secretariat to grant a local content license to the Ramps Logistics Company by 12 noon on Monday 14th November.
The company had filed action against the Local Content Secretariat and the Government over the refusal to grant it the license to operate in the oil and gas sector despite its application being in the system for several months.
The original application by the company was turned down earlier this year and it submitted a new application after it got clarification on the reason for the earlier denial.
Though the second application met all of the requirements, the company found itself waiting months to be granted the license although more than 300 other companies were granted the same license.
The delay in the granting of the license forced RAMPS to move to the Court to force the Government to grant the license.
The Chief Justice in her ruling found that the Local Content Secretariat had breached the Local Content Act when it refused to issue Ramps Logistics with a Certificate of Registration though it reached the 51% requirement with regards to Guyanese ownership.
“The applicant has satisfied the statutory requirements and preconditions necessary for the grant or issuance of a certificate of registration under Section 6 (2) of the Local Content Act,” the Chief Justice ruled while adding that both the Natural Resources Minister Vickram Bharrat and the Local Content Secretariat have breached the Act.
The Chief Justice, in handing down her decision, also said that the Minister of Natural Resources and the Local Content Secretariat had woefully fallen short in countering the application filed by the logistics company.
She said contrary to the arguments put forward by the respondents, Ramps Logistics had filed only one application, which was refused on June 8, 2022 in an automatic notification and for which, the refusal was confirmed by the Minister of Natural Resources, Vickram Bharrat on June 9, 2022.
“I must state that the first respondent, the Minister, had and has no authority, that is the Minister of Natural Resources, had and has no authority under the Local Content Act to make a decision whether to grant or refuse an application for Certification of Registration,” the Chief Justice said.
Further, she said the Local Content Secretariat and its Director took irrelevant matters into consideration in deciding to refuse the applicant’s application for registration.
“The Local Content Act provides a relatively simple regime for registration once the person satisfies the criteria, in this case of being a Guyanese company. There is no evidence submitted by the respondents to counter the information provided by the applicant, which I have considered and concluded satisfied the requirements of the Local Content Act,” the Chief Justice said.
She said in his Affidavit in Defence, Mr Pertab referred to a Form C comprising a List of Requirements, which has no statutory basis. The Director had also referred to charges laid against the company by the Guyana Revenue Authority but that too, the Chief Justice said was irrelevant to the determination of an application under the Local Content Act.
RAMPS Logistics has been operating in Guyana for almost a decade and has grown into one of the largest logistics company in the country serving the oil and gas sector. The company is originally from Trinidad and Tobago.
However, following the passage of the Local Content legislation, the company got a Guyanese national to buy into a majority of its shares for the Guyana company and followed all of the additional rules as catered for in the legislation.
The company currently employs hundreds of Guyanese nationals in key senior and junior positions. More than 95% of its workforce is Guyanese.
The company’s Chairman had complained in the press that he believes there were attempts by dark forces in Guyana’s private sector attempting to prevent the company’s expansion and growth in Guyana’s oil and gas sector.