Considering that the new Natural Resource Fund Bill 2021, contains more than 20 provisions of the repealed legislation passed by the Granger administration, Senior Finance Minister, Dr. Ashni Singh contends that two weeks was adequate time for review of the new Bill prior to parliamentary debate.
The Minister made this point in response to recent criticisms that the Bill being laid on December 16, 2021, constrained the public to a two-week period for scrutiny, and was certainly not enough time for proper review and public input. Several sections of society, including the political opposition, called for the Bill to be sent to a Special Select Committee for proper interrogation of its new clauses which include the insertion of a Board of Directors whose members are appointed by the President.
However, Dr. Singh, who was accompanied by four other Ministers at the Arthur Chung Convention Centre, this afternoon stated that the Bill did not need to be sent to a Special Select Committee since it was tabled in good time and in keeping with the Standing Orders.
He said, “The Bill was tabled in good time in December and was therefore in the House for 2 weeks. The Standing Orders prescribes the number of days for it to be tabled and they were fully complied with. Also, this is not new legislation. It replicated more than 21 clauses of the original law. So it is not unfamiliar territory or a completely novel law. It has similar or identical provisions even though some were not perfect… But these are not matters of grave complexity. They are easy to understand and process.”
The Senior Minister said if the political opposition had any major issues with the Bill, they had the latitude to table amendments, the same way they had done with the Local Content Bill 2021.
“They did not propose a single valid objection except to say it should go to select committee,” the Minister added.
On Wednesday evening, Guyana Standard reported that the NRF Bill 2021 was passed in the midst of mayhem caused by the political opposition which was intended to disrupt the passage of the Bill. After a failed abduction of the Speaker’s Mace by Opposition Member, Annette Ferguson and other disorderly acts, the Bill was nonetheless rushed through within minutes and deemed passed.
The government and the APNU+AFC have been caught in a wrangle over the proper passage of the Bill. The PPP/C Administration insists that the Mace and the majority of its members were present for the voting while the APNU+AFC contends the opposite.
The Speaker of the House, Manzoor Nadir held a press conference earlier today where he deemed the Bill to be legally passed.