A SENSE of relief and a sense of pride is what CEO of Ramps Logistics, Shaun Rampersad and his team at Ramps Guyana are feeling since the company received its local content certificate on Monday, as ordered by Guyana acting chief justice Roxanne George-Wiltshire.
The chief justice’s ruling signalled an end to a six-month long struggle with the Guyanese government which, in June, denied the based company a local content certificate under new legislation.
“Our team in Guyana especially has been under tremendous pressure and stress. You can imagine the concern about job security going into Christmas. Not sure what's going to happen, you know, if they would lose their jobs and that sort of stuff. So the stress level in the organisation was off the charts for a few months,” Rampersad told Business Day.
“The average age in Ramps Guyana is probably about 23 or 24 years old, right? A lot of young university graduates are in the organisation. And I feel like they feel a sense of pride that in their country, that they see that there's a free and fair judiciary and a free and fair and independent judiciary.”
According to reports Justice George-Wiltshire determined that Minister of Natural Resources, Vickram Bharrat and director of the Local Content Secretariat, Dr Martin Pertab erred in their denial of a the local content certificate.
While the secretariat took issue with what it claimed was inconsistencies in financial statements submitted that would prove that 51 per cent of the company was owned by Deepak Lall – a “bonafide Guyanese,” George-Wiltshire determined that the state fell short in proving its case.
Pertab’s submission that Ramps was facing several charges laid by the Guyana Revenue Authority for breach of the custom’s law was debunked by George-Wiltshire who said the charges were laid days after Ramps’ application for judicial review and was, therefore, irrelevant. Pertab's argument that that there were inconsistencies between the application by Ramps and Form C – a list of requirements by the Secretariat to carry out its due diligence of the companies applying to be part of the register – was absent as an exhibit.
“The law provides a relatively simple regime for registration once the person satisfies the criteria in this case, of being a Guyanese company,” the chief justice said in her preliminary ruling. “There is no evidence submitted by the respondent to counter the information provided by the applicant which I have considered and concluded satisfies the requirements of the Local Content Act.”
Rampersad said that with Guyana now quickly growing into a powerhouse in the region, it will help Caricom to have a bigger voice in the world.
He said to integrate the Caricom region, there would be a need for leaders who are serious of connecting the countries. He said leaders like Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley and Guyana President Irfaan Ali are leading the charge, and it makes him hopeful that things in the region would get better with their leadership.
“There are a couple leaders right now that are serious and they want to get this done. And when Guyana becomes wealthier it means that Caricom will have a bigger voice.”
“We are only as powerful as the combined voices of the territories within the region,” he said.