The Civil Aviation Bill 2017 was presented for the second time before it was sent to Select Committee in the National Assembly this evening.
The House worked through its break to facilitate the presentation of the Bill. Minister of Public Infrastructure David Patterson in his presentation requested the Civil Aviation Bill 2017 be sent to Select Committee.
The new Bill seeks to repeal and replace the Civil Aviation Act Chapter 53:01 and bring Guyana’s aviation law into conformity with primary legislation regulating civil aviation currently found in other parts of the world.
The Bill also makes provisions for the enablement of the Chicago Convention and the Agreement establishing the Caribbean Aviation Safety and Security Oversight System.
The Opposition side of the House supported the Minister’s move for the Bill to be sent to the Select Committee. Opposition Chief Whip Gail Teixeira argued that there are fundamental issues in the Bill that needed to be addressed.
Minister of Public Infrastructure, David Patterson presenting the Civil Aviation Bill in the National Assembly
Security was at the top of concerns outlined by the Opposition side of the House. Opposition Member of Parliament Clement Rohee pointed out “deficiencies” in the Bill that include the security consideration, concessions for the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) and the powers that the Bill vests in the subject Minister as against the Authority.
Teixeira noted that the Minister should focus on building the aviation sector and not make technical decisions in a highly technical field. The Opposition Chief Whip noted the Bill needs to look at investigating issues and policy issues.
However, Rohee welcomed the Bill’s provisions for training of members within the aviation sector, but was critical of the use of contact employees against the “fixed pensionable establishment”. He then recommended a scholarship programme should be offered by the training school for those who may not be able to afford the training.
Responding to the issues raised by the Opposition speakers, Minister Patterson noted that the role of the Minister has been reduced contrary to the Opposition’s assertions. Minister Patterson noted that approvals required in the system still have to go through the current established channels.
The Minister also pointed out that GCAA is a semi-autonomous agency and sets its employment requirements.
On the penalties, Minister Patterson noted that accidents or unruly acts in the aviation sector endanger the lives of everyone. Minister Patterson said a separate Bill will subsequently be brought before the House to address accident investigations in the aviation sector.
The Civil Aviation Bill 2017 was shared with and reviewed by the ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organisation). Minister Patterson told the House that if the Bill is passed in its current form, Guyana would receive further credit from the international organisation.
Currently, Guyana is ranked above average in the Caribbean. The GCAA has stepped up efforts to improve the country’s aviation status.