How a Bill becomes an Act.
There are two types of laws in Guyana, common law and statute law. Common law is made by the decisions of judges in court cases. Statute law, or law of the land, is made by Parliament.
A legal proposal introduced in the National Assembly is called a bill According to the Constitution, any member of the National Assembly may introduce a bill in the Assembly. However, most bills are sponsored by the Government. Bills relating to the national budget, taxation and other financial matters require the recommendation or consent of the Cabinet.
Whenever the need for a new law arises, officials of the ministries or departments concerned consider proposals. Draft legislation is first consid¬ered by the Cabinet and then submitted to the Assembly by the relevant minister.
The bill is placed on the order paper for introduction in the National Assembly and published in the Official Gazette. The Clerk is responsible for distributing copies of the bill to all Members. When a bill is introduced, it is read for the first time.
According to the Standing Orders, no bill shall be read a second time until seven days have passed from the date of its publication in the Gazette and until it has been circulated to the Members.
During the second reading, a general debate takes place on the bill. The bill is thereafter considered by a Committee of the Whole Assembly, unless the Assembly refers the bill to a Select Committee. Any amendments or changes proposed by a Member to the bill are considered before it is read for the third and final time. Upon the third reading of a bill, no further amendments may be proposed.
A bill passed by the Assembly is submitted by the Clerk to the President for his signature. Only when a bill has been signed by the President does it become a statute law or an act. If the President withholds assent to a bill, it is returned to the Speaker within 21 days with a message stating the reasons for withholding assent. If two-thirds of the Assembly vote to return the bill to the President within six months, he must give his assent to it within 90 days of the presentation to him.