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Complete ‘overhaul’ of Companies Act imminent – Guyana Chronicle

–Attorney-General Nandlall says IN keeping with efforts to modernize Guyana’s economic and legal landscapes, Attorney-General Mohabir Anil Nandlall, S.C., has unveiled a comprehensive plan to overhaul the nearly three-decade-old Companies Act, signalling a pivotal shift in the nation’s approach to commercial regulation amidst an unprecedented economic boom. This pivotal legislation, as outlined by Minister of Legal Affairs, Mohabir Anil Nandlall, S.C. during his weekly programme, ‘Issues in the News,’ marks a critical juncture in the country’s journey of transformative growth. “The Companies Act, passed in 1991, is nearly 35 or 40 years old; and by sheer passage of time, it requires a review,” Nandlall said, highlighting the outdated nature of the current legislation against the backdrop of Guyana’s rapidly evolving economic landscape. Highlighting the gap between the law and current commercial realities, Nandlall pointed out: “The state of the Guyanese economy and the state of the commercial sector of Guyana in 1991, when that Act was passed, was radically different from what it is now.” This mismatch, according to Nandlall, necessitates a “complete overhaul of the act” to address modern commercial practices, including issues such as anti-money laundering and the advent of the stock market, which were not prevalent concerns when the original act was enacted. Nandlall also noted the significant increase in business activities, stating, “From 2020 to now, we have had 59,014 new businesses registered at the Deeds and Commercial Registry Authority (DCRA) …For companies, we have had 4,856 new companies incorporated.” These statistics, Nandlall said, underscore the explosive growth in the commercial sector, further underscoring the need for updated regulatory frameworks. The Attorney-General revealed plans to adopt a CARICOM model law as a template for the new Companies Act, aiming for consistency with broader Caribbean legal standards while accommodating Guyana’s unique economic features, including the burgeoning oil and gas sector. “Our companies act must take into account these new realities,” Nandlall affirmed, acknowledging the multidimensional changes in the commercial landscape, from the introduction of new industries to the expansion of existing ones. Nandlall said that this legislative revision is poised to modernize Guyana’s commercial legal framework, ensuring that it is equipped to facilitate the nation’s ongoing economic expansion and integration into the global market, with a clear focus on regulatory compliance, transparency, and fostering a conducive environment for business and investment. This amendment comes against the backdrop of a remarkable increase in business and company registrations over the past three years since the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) was elected to office, as reported by the DCRA. The revenue earned by the DCRA has also seen a noteworthy increase, underscoring the economic vitality and the success of the registry’s operations in facilitating the growth of the commercial sector. In response to this burgeoning commercial landscape, the government has embarked on a series of legislative reforms aimed at creating a more modern, safe, and transparent business environment. Key among these reforms is the overhaul of the Companies Act and the Securities Council Act. The latter is a strategic move to foster a robust stock exchange market in Guyana, with plans to model it after one of the leading markets in the Caribbean, in collaboration with Jamaica. The government is also working on amending laws to ensure that contractual instruments could be accepted as collateral for financing by commercial lending agencies. This is part of a broader effort to make business operations smoother and more secure for entrepreneurs and investors alike.

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