Gov't aims at more IMF deadlines in House today

BY BALFORD HENRY Senior staff reporter

Tuesday, December 10, 2013    

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THE House of Representatives will today debate two more Bills related to the Government's growth-enhancing structural reforms under the Extended Fund Facility agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

One of the Bills, the Securities (Amendment) Act 2013, was tabled in the House two weeks ago by Finance Minister Dr Peter Phillips. However, the second Bill, the Companies (Amendment) Act 2013, has not yet been tabled, but will be debated.

In addition, a late e-mail from Gordon House last night said that two more bills, the Fiscal Incentives (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act and the Income Tax Relief (Large Scale Projects) Act, 2013, which were passed in the Senate on Friday had been added to the agenda.

Opposition spokesman on industry, investment and commerce Karl Samuda said last night that he was concerned that the bill to ammend the Companies Act had been listed on today's agenda to be "tabled and debated", without any prior warning to him or Leader of Opposition Business Derrick Smith. Samuda said that he had no knowledge of what the Bill was about.

The Jamaica Observer was unable to contact any representative of the Government capable of explaining what the Companies (Amendment) Act is about, and Gordon House was not in a position to explain either.

The Opposition has been complaining for several weeks about the Government's aptitude to table Bills and have them debated and passed without delay, denying members of Parliament time to fully digest the contents, as it seeks to meet the IMF deadlines.

The Securities (Amendment) is a 175-page document, which was tabled with 41 additional pages of proposed amendments to the principal Act, is aimed at amending the Securities Act to enhance the legislative framework for the regulation of the securities industry.

The Bill's memorandum of objects and reasons says that this is necessary in order "to combat the establishment and proliferation of unlawful financial organisations, modernise the framework for the regulation of collective investment schemes, and correct other deficiencies in the regulatory framework of the securities industry".

This also falls under the structural programme conditionalities of the Extended Fund Facility agreement.

According to the Supplementary Memorandum of Economic and Financial Policies in Ministry Paper number 116/13, the Government is required to implement "a legal and regulatory framework conducive to Collective Investment Schemes in consultation with the IMF staff", by December 31.

Proposed amendments to the Companies Act included in the current Bill are: expanding the definition of securities; prohibiting "Ponzi" and "pyramid" schemes; criteria to be met by investment clubs; regulation of collective investments schemes; enhanced enforcement and investigative capabilities for the Financial Services Commission (FSC); and facilitating the sharing of information with overseas regulatory authorities for co-operation in enforcing laws regulating the securities sector.

The House also plans to commence debate of the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries' Food and Nutrition Security Policy, as well as Private Member's Motion number 10 from Opposition spokesperson on tourism, Shahine Robinson, regarding the state of the craft industry.





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