[www.inewsguyana.com] – Former Parliamentarian under the previous government, Anil Nandlall has taken issue with the claims made by Attorney General and Legal Affairs Minister, Basil Williams as it relates to the debts owed to Trinidad Cement Limited (TCL) and Rudisa Beverages.
Minister Williams had revealed in Parliament that the former People’s Progressive Party/Civic government failed to pay billions of dollars owed to the two regional companies and that he is unaware of the reasons behind the failure to pay the dues.
The Caribbean Court of Justices (CCJ) had ruled in favour of both companies in two separate court proceedings. In the rulings, the then government was ordered to pay the Rudisa Beverages GYD$1.8B and TCL close to GYD$57M.
Rudisa, a Suriname based company, produces and sells beverages in non-returnable containers. Caribbean International Distributors Inc. (CIDI) had alleged that the imposition by Guyana in 1995, of an environmental levy or tax of $10 on all imported non-returnable beverage containers imported into Guyana, was discriminatory and amounted to a violation of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas (RTC) passed into Guyana law in 2006.
TCL claimed losses due to the Guyana government’s unilateral waiver of a 15% Common External Tariff (CET) on cement imports, be dealt with in accordance with Article 222 of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas and Part 10 of the Caribbean Court of Justice (Original Jurisdiction) Rules of 2006.
But Nandlall, who is also the former AG, clarified that Guyana has failed to amend its laws to bring them in conformity with the revised Treaty of Chagaramas, in terms of ensuring that certain goods of Caricom origin are not levied with tax and customs duties when imported into Guyana.
“During the hearing of the case, the Rudisa Company undertook before the CCJ, that were Guyana to remove from its laws, the offensive provisions, they would withdraw their case against Guyana. The CCJ adjourned the matter for this to be done.
“As a result, the then Finance Minister, Dr. Ashni Singh tabled the necessary amendments to the Customs Act in the National Assembly on two occasions. On both occasions the joint opposition, which held a majority in the National Assembly, voted against the amendments. Messrs Basil Williams, Khemraj Ramjattan and Carl Greenidge spoke emphatically against the amendments on each occasion. In both instances, I explained to the House that the case is pending at the CCJ, and if the amendments are not passed, judgement will be granted against Guyana. My appeals fell on deaf ears. The astonishment expressed by the Attorney General on this issue is bewildering,” Nandlall said in a press statement.
He further noted that Guyana remains in violation of the revised Treaty of Chagaramas and many more lawsuits can be filed.
“Therefore, rather than engage in political ramblings on this issue, it would be prudent if the AG could ensure that Guyana complies with its Treaty obligations.”
He further clarified, “The second ‘debt’ referred to by Mr. Williams, is in relation to 57 million Guyana dollars which he claims was awarded against the State in a matter brought by Trinidad Cement Limited. No such award was made. The only monetary order made in that matter relates to costs and it is nothing close to 57 million dollars.”