Seventeen years after the first oil exploration agreement was signed with Esso Exploration and Production and partners, Government has formalised all applicable tax waivers from which the entity and its partners will be benefiting.This was obtained when Finance Minister Winston Jordan presented for the House, the Order for affirmation by Members of the National Assembly.Finance Minister Winston JordanThe Order formalising the waivers relate to the relevant corporation, property, corporation and other taxes.Jordan, in presenting the motion to the House for a vote, said it was nothing new or isolated to the current Administration and pointed to previous similar orders issued in relation to other exploration companies such as CGX Resources.Speaking to the importance of, and the need for, the tax waivers to be granted to the oil giant and its partners, Minister Jordan pointed out that oil exploration is an expensive business, requiring significant levels of investments before any returns could be had.He said, in order to encourage companies to remain engaged in oil exploration in Guyana, concessions were given over time and companies have been seeing promising results.Jordan drew reference to the more than 1.4 billion barrels of crude oil estimated to be found in the reserves. According to Jordan, the discovery of oil “has created excitement at home and abroad.”He posited that everyone recognises that once managed with prudence, “the financial windfall will create the fiscal space we crave for the rapid development.”As such, the Order formalising the tax waivers are important to provide investors with the necessary comfort required by its shareholders and directors that the agreement with the Guyana Government remains unaltered.“We will continue to do our part to improve the business climate,” he said.He pointed to the fact that the oil company has secured an extension of its exploratory permits warranting the need for the formalising of the tax waivers as provided for under Guyana’s Petroleum Laws.The motion was eventually unanimously supported by all members of the House, but not before some Opposition speakers expressed reservations about the process used to bring the motion to the House.Chairperson of the Standing Parliamentary Sectoral Committee on Natural Resources, Odinga Lumumba, informed the House that he was unaware of the motion being brought to the House for approval.He told the House while oil could serve as a significant boost for the Guyanese economy, it could also be equally detrimental and as such, “we can’t carry on like this in this country… we have to be careful, we have to work together… what is the problem; why the secrecy?”Lumumba said the relative secrecy with which the motion was brought to the House “makes us feel as if there is a hidden agenda.” “We cannot embrace the future of our country in secrecy, in darkness, we have to do it in the light,” he noted.Oil, he reminded, can lead to destruction, “it has destroyed several countries, and therefore we have to work together.” Substantive Minister for the oil sector, Natural Resources Minister Raphael Trotman, sought to assure the House that there were no sinister motives afoot.In fact, Trotman told the House there was no disrespect meant to members of the House or the public at large and that there is “an entitlement to know what is happening.”He used the opportunity in his presentation to update the House on a number of bilateral engagements with the US Government, the European Union and the Canadian and Mexican administration, among others.These engagements, he said, have led to outreaches such as the provision of scholarships for Guyanese students wanting to study in that field, in addition to the establishment of the Sovereign Wealth Fund.He said too that the Norwegian Government has also expressed an interest in assisting Guyana in addition to pledged assistance from the Commonwealth Secretariat.Minister Trotman informed the House too that the University of the West Indies (UWI) has also been engaged.In calling for the support of the House, Minister Trotman recalled that ever since the agreement was first signed in 1999, this is the first time the order formalising the tax waivers has been brought to the House and is in fact, “many years overdue.”Opposition Chief Whip Gail Teixeira, in her contribution to the short debate, told the House that while they are eagerly awaiting the realisation of the prospects of oil but the Opposition would have wanted to be privy to the Order at an earlier time, since it would have liked to been more prepared for such an important debate.She told the House that the Opposition was essentially being asked to support tax waivers, but there was no indication as to how long or even the quantum of waivers that would be applicable.The motion was nonetheless approved by all members of the House.The tax waivers addressed in the Order, as presented by Minister Jordan, relates to the applicable section of the Income Tax Act, the Income Tax in Aid of Industry Act, and laws relevant to Corporation and Property taxes.
Traffic collisions were up Monday, likely due to the slippery conditions caused by rain, the California Highway Patrol reported. “Last Monday, there were about 16” crashes, said CHP Officer Francisco Villalobos. “It’s pretty much doubled.” About 34 collisions occurred between 5 and 9a.m. Monday on freeways patrolled by the Baldwin Park and Santa Fe Springs offices of the CHP, Villalobos said. None of the wrecks resulted in serious injuries. Local police agencies reported few collisions on city streets related to rainy weather. Neighborhood Watch to meet WHITTIER – The Telechron Neighborhood Watch group will hold a meeting at 6:30 p.m. today at Telechron Elementary School, 11200 Telechron Ave. All residents of the area are welcome to come and voice their concerns and get involved in making their community a better place to live. For more information, call (562) 698-7645. Hearing loss topic of lecture WHITTIER – Are you not hearing as well as you used to? Do people seem to mumble a lot more than they used to? Is background noise starting to really bother you? If so, Presbyterian Hospital is presenting a lecture on hidden hearing loss from 3 to 4 p.m. Thursday in the Flo & Frank L. Scott Conference Center, 12401 Washington Blvd. Participants can find out the many options for solving the problems and find 10 easy free steps to improve your hearing without a hearing aid. Space is limited so resevations are recommended. For more information or to make a reservation, call (562) 698-0811, Ext. 2444. Free movie set at local hospital MONTEBELLO – Beverly Hospital will present a free screening of the film “The Devil Wears Prada” at 3 p.m. Thursday in the Tower Basement Meeting Room, 309 W. Beverly Blvd. The comedy-drama stars Anne Hathaway and Meryl Streep about a college graduate who goes to work for a famous fashion magazine and finds the boss from hell. The film is rated PG-13 and reservations are required. For more information or to make reservations, call (800) 618-6664. STD hot line is revitalized LOS ANGELES – To mark National Condom Week, the county Department of Public Health re-launched an expanded version of its Sexually Transmitted Diseases Hotline. The hot line is accessible 24 hours a day, seven days a week and gives callers instant information about all STDs in English and Spanish. It also gives callers access to free condoms and contact information to 50 free or low-cost STD and HIV test sites throughout the county. For more information, call (800) 758-0880. AVID honors Santa Fe High SANTA FE SPRINGS – Santa Fe High School has been recognized by the Advancement Via Individual Determination Center in San Diego, a program that supports the college aspirations of students who are under-represented on college campuses. “We’re very proud of the accomplishments of our students and the staff who support their achievement through AVID,” said Santa Fe High Principal Monica Oviedo. – From staff reports 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!