President Irfaan Ali has signed the controversial Natural Resource Fund Bill into law as well as the Local Content Bill. Both pieces of legislation are related to the management of the oil and gas sector in Guyana.
The President assented to the Natural Resource Fund Bill yesterday. There was no announcement of the signing of that Bill until this morning after it was already signed into law.
In contrast, the Local Content Bill was signed into law at a ceremony at the President’s Office with several of his Cabinet Ministers and members of the various private-sector agencies lined up next to each other to witness the signing.
Both Bills were passed in the National Assembly on Wednesday with the Natural Resource Fund Bill igniting a loud protest in the Assembly by the Opposition. It was during that protest that Opposition Member of Parliament Annette Ferguson snatched the Assembly’s Mace in an effort to block the passage.
The Mace would have to be in place for the National Assembly to legally do its work and lawfully enact legislation. The Speaker used a “replica” Mace to allow the rushed passage of the Natural Resource Fund Bill moments after the Finance Minister completed his presentation of the Bill. The Speaker has since declared that the Bill was lawfully and legally passed, while the Opposition has disagreed.
The Local Content Bill which was passed earlier Wednesday before the furor in the House unfolded, received the support of the Opposition although the Opposition wanted it sent to a select committee for further input and consultation.
The Local Content legislation sets out the rules that will govern companies involved in the oil and gas sector and their legal requirements to cater for and support local content. The private sector bodies have welcomed the piece of legislation since it will ensure local companies and businesses are well represented in the dealings of foreign companies involved in the sector.
In brief comments, the President said the Local Content Bill sets the framework for Guyanese to win.
“When the people of Guyana win, the world wins, this region wins,” the President said
He added that he will make bold decisions to move the country forward as it navigates the oil and gas industry.
“Wherever bold decision is needed I will lead from, we have to take this country forward, we have to ensure we dismantle barriers and build a cohesive vehicle that moves forward”, Ali noted.