October 11, 2009

CCJ to hear first contempt of court application

Source: 360 Caribbean
Published :October 7, 2009

Trinidad Cement Limited (TCL) is heading back to court over its dispute with Guyana. But this time, in the first such application made to the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), the cement manufacturer wants Guyana to be held in contempt for not complying with the court's order that it reinstate the Common External Tariff (CET) on cement imported from outside the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).

TCL and its subsidiary, TCL Guyana Inc, filed the application yesterday.

After finding Guyana in breach of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas, after the country failed to apply the CET on cement imported from outside the region, the CCJ on August 20th gave the Bharrat Jagdeo government 28 days to re-establish it. But TCL said the deadline had come and gone without Guyana taking any steps to comply with the ruling.

TCL said that while Guyana made an application to CARICOM for a waiver of the CET, that request was turned down before the deadline given by the CCJ.

"The time for compliance with the order of the court also expired on September 17, and Guyana has not taken any steps to act in accordance with the ruling of the CCJ," a statement from the cement company said.

"TCL views this failure to abide by and implement the ruling of the CCJ as a flagrant departure from the rule of the law. It also negatively impacts upon the public's confidence and respect for the court. It is hoped that Guyana will remedy this state of affairs expeditiously, and the CET on imported cement into that country be immediately re-established," it added.

TCL has asked the court to summon Guyana's Attorney General of Guyana, Charles Ramson, to give evidence and show cause why he should not be held in contempt of court for failing to obey the CCJ's order.

When the ruling was handed down in August, Ramson said that Guyana was "prepared to obey the order of the court".

The CET is a rate of duty applied by all CARICOM member states to products imported from outside that grouping. Although it may be altered or suspended on an item in circumstances where a product is not produced in CARICOM, the quality of the item produced regionally does not satisfy demand, or the quality of the CARICOM-made product is below standard, countries cannot unilaterally make any change.

Request for suspensions of alterations to the CET must be channeled through the Community's Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) for approval by the CARICOM Secretary General.

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