House approves tax waivers for oil explorers

-opposition seeks details

The National Assembly on Thursday evening passed three motions to waive tax laws for petroleum exploration by three companies.

The motions, presented by Finance Minister Dr Ashni Singh, sought the confirmation of three orders regarding the operations of YPF Guyana Ltd, CGX Recourses Inc. and CANACOL Energy (Guyana Inc)-formerly Groundstar Resources Inc.-in accordance with section 51 of the Petroleum Act of 1986.

Singh, during his presentation, noted that Guyana has significant potential to produce petroleum and said as a result there is the need to invest in the sector. He added that standard agreements exist where the utilization of the orders exist, and added that there is a framework which involves a profit sharing arrangement.

PNCR-1G MP Winston Murray stated that he supported the initiative intended to explore Guyana’s petroleum potential but questioned what reasons may have prevented the government from laying the agreements made with the exploration companies in the National Assembly.

He explained that his understanding of the motion was that it created the opportunity for the waiving of certain requirements within the tax laws. In the place of such provisions would be the agreements made between the government and the investors, he noted.

Murray said that petroleum assets which exist within Guyana are the patrimony of the citizenry and added that while he trusts what the Finance Minister says he would prefer to verify it. In this regard, he cited the QAII deal, for which legislation had to be passed to retroactively ensure it was in accordance with the laws of Guyana.

AFC MP Khemraj Ramjattan stated his support for the initiative but noted that he had no knowledge of the terms and conditions of the agreements made between the government and the investors. He dubbed the situation “extremely appalling in terms of transparency.”

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