Ministry of the Presidency, July 1, 2015 The Government of Guyana has taken a decision to respect and comply with the judicial rulings of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) with regard to litigation filed against the country by Trinidad Cement Limited (TCL) and the Surinamese beverage company, Rudisa.
Speaking at his weekly post-Cabinet press briefing, Minister of State, Hon. Joseph Harmon said, “Cabinet made it clear that as a law abiding country where the rule of law reigns supreme, judgements of the court has to be respected unless they are vacated.”
Guyana owes TCL TT$2,599,971 which includes a contempt of court fine, and the sum of US$6.9M to Rudisa.
Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Basil Williams will be seeking to negotiate with the two companies with a view to finding out whether they will be prepared to accept a smaller sum as a final settlement in these matters.
Former Attorney General Anil Nandlall has said that the current Administration, while in opposition, voted against the necessary amendments to the Customs Act, which resulted in Rudisa winning a judgement against Guyana on the grounds that 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.
In his response, Minister Harmon explained that the judgement by the CCJ is as a result of Guyana violating a commitment made by all of the CARICOM countries. He noted that the then combined opposition did not support the Bill that was tabled in the Tenth Parliament because it was merely styled as an environmental tax and rather than just removing the obnoxious imposition of a container tax, it actually sought to create additional taxes.
“We said that if you wanted to have an environmental tax in the first place the tax should be directed to the purposes connected to the environment. That is what we objected to”, the Minister of State said.
He further added that there was no distinction between containers that were biodegradable and those that were not; noting that any environmental tax should benefit the environment.