Guyana Bar Association, Gov’t split over uncomfortable Local Content provisions

On Friday the Council of the Guyana Bar Association scrambled an emergency Special Meeting. The principal issue of concern was the Local Content Bill enacted into law by the PPP/C regime on December 29, 2021. Prior to the passage of the bill, the main Opposition party had bemoaned the lack of proper consultations, and requested for the Bill to be sent to a Special Select Committee for technical consideration. Like the Opposition, the concerns of the Bar Association were also ignored and the regime used its one-seat majority to rush the Bill through the House.

It is alledged local attorneys expressed sentiments of disappointment and disrespect by the government’s refusal to respond to their concerns. The allotment of 90% of legal work was described as shallow thinking by the government. Senior attorneys in attendance included Stephen Fraser, Andrew Pollard, Juman-Yassin, Moen McDoom, and Teni Housty. Over the past weeks, the regime has suffered heavy criticism from local businesses and experts in the oil and gas industry in relation to the Local Content Bill’s poor provisions.

The PPP/C regime in its response has been using the heads of key government agencies together with an handful of businessmen, who either benefitted already from the Oil and Gas industry or otherwise sit on the Private Sector Commission, to endorse the Local Content Act wholeheartedly on the covers of newspapers aligned to the regime’s agenda.

International Lawyer Selwyn Pieters has questioned whether the government’s delay in sending the Bill to the Bar Association was deliberate. President of the Bar Association Pearline Chase, according to reports, noted that based on the series of events, such a conclusion would not be unreasonable for anyone to hold. Senior Attorney Teni Housty, it is reported, interjected and noted that he requested the Bill at the stakeholders meeting and was told, “No”. Chase, underscored that the Association supports Local Content and welcomes the Act, but bemoaned the absence of stakeholder consultation and a policy approach to developing such critical legislation.
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