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Draft oil spill legislation to be released within a week – Dr Jagdeo

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A draft oil spill legislation will soon be released to the public for extensive consultations, according to General Secretary of the People’s Progressive Party (PPP), Dr Bharrat Jagdeo.

This highly anticipated legislative framework will set out the proposed procedures for oil spill preparation, planning and response as well as issues relating to liabilities and damages. It will detail the state’s responsibilities and those accountable in the event of an oil spill, whether it be companies operating in the sector or a shipping company.

General Secretary of the People’s Progressive Party, Dr Bharrat Jagdeo, speaking during the press conference on Thursday

“Within a week, we’ll get a draft for the Environmental Spill Legislation to ensure that we safeguard the country; fortify it with a law that forces these companies to own liability should there be an oil spill,” he told reporters at a press conference on Thursday.

At a previous press conference, the general secretary noted that the administration is actively studying similar legislation of other countries including the United States (US), to incorporate relevant positions.

He made these statements, reminding the nation that the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) since 2020, has fortified the country’s institutional architecture for the burgeoning petroleum industry to guarantee accountability and transparency.

For instance, the government established a Local Content Act in 2021, allowing thousands of Guyanese to be able to participate in the sector through employment and business opportunities.

In addition, the Natural Resources Fund (NRF) was updated, enacting a series of reforms to strengthen the regulatory infrastructure of the oil and gas industry.

Moreover, the Petroleum Activities Act of 1986 was updated and in 2023, the Ministry of Natural Resources hosted an auction for its remaining oil blocks offshore Guyana, absolving the first-come-first-serve model and giving other investors a fair chance.

“Any independent observer would know that in the past four years, we have practically modernised the entire framework for the oil and gas sector. We have addressed all of the major issues in this sector,” the general secretary boasted.

This is in stark contrast to what transpired under the coalition government, which hid deals and agreements from the public eye for many years.

“No minister of the government answered any question about the oil and gas sector. That was their legacy. The People’s Progressive Party resumed office, and we are extremely proud of what we have achieved in that sector over the past four years that we’ve been in office,” Dr Jagdeo reminded.

Dr Jagdeo also criticised the opposition and certain sections of the media for lacking profundity in addressing constructive policies relating to the management of the petroleum industry.

He believes that this is how they seek to distract from the successes of the government in managing the industry.

“We are not going to be led by anyone in this make-believe world [that]APNU could do that. They could go into a make-believe world that they are addressing serious issues [but] we are addressing the serious issues,” he underscored.

The government’s commitment to accountability has not gone unnoticed, with several international financial institutions commending the government for putting in place the necessary tools and means to regulate the multi-billion-dollar sector.

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