GG outlines hectic legislative scheduleFriday, February 19, 2021
BY ARTHUR HALL
The Government has indicated its intention to have a busy 2021-2022 Parliamentary year as it moves to bounce back from the ravages of COVID-19 over the past 12 months.
Governor General Sir Patrick Allen outlined plans by the Andrew Holness Administration to amend, and replace, a raft of legislation as he presented the Throne Speech during the Ceremonial Opening of Parliament yesterday.
According to Sir Patrick, the legislative changes are part of a plan by the Government to help Jamaica recover from the devastating impact of the novel coronavirus pandemic.
“Prior to the pandemic we had forecasted 1.2 per cent growth for fiscal year 2020/21. The past financial year has shown us the need for strength and resilience. We have ensured that we have used a risk-based management approach that is evidence-based, measured, situationally appropriate and proportionate. We have developed strategies for coping and recovering,” said Sir Patrick.
“Last year, we committed to making this our decade of growth. Notwithstanding setbacks caused by the pandemic, we must recommit to our 2030 vision and summon our energies, talents, and resources as we march forward to achieve it. We must never lose focus on creating a safer and more caring society where all can achieve their true potential,” he said.
He argued that the goal cannot simply be to return Jamaica to our pre-COVID-19 reality.
“We must go beyond this and emerge economically and socially stronger by addressing fundamental gaps that have been exposed, and exploiting opportunities that arise.”
Sir Patrick pointed to the recommendations of the COVID-19 Economic Recovery Task Force as the measures that will guide Jamaica's recovery efforts.
These include greater focus and shift of capital expenditure towards activities that maximise local value-added, accelerated capital investment in public health capacity; accelerated investment in public education infrastructure; the expansion of the social safety net, while ensuring its efficiency and transparency; and the reconfiguration and diversification of the economy by supporting the creation of new industries and strengthening local linkages.
“Honourable members, we must not only rebuild what we have lost. Every Jamaican, every entrepreneur, every civil servant, every business, and every government agency must build forward…stronger together,” declared the governor general.
Among the legislative changes which the Administration plan this year is the amendment of the Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR) Act to incorporate new and emerging service sectors into its regulatory mandate.
“A swift recovery can only occur in a stable macroeconomic environment with a supportive legislative and regulatory framework. Therefore, amendments to the Urban Renewal (Tax Relief) Act, Financial Administration and Audit Act, Financial Services Commission Act, and Income Tax Relief (Large-scale Projects and Pioneer Industries) Act, will be undertaken in the new fiscal year to further create a supportive environment for business and investment,” said Sir Patrick.
He told the sitting of the Senate, where members of the House of Representatives were invited, that amendments will also be made to the Water Resources Act and the Flood Water Control Act.
Four pieces of legislation have also been identified to improve security across the island. These are: An Act to Repeal and Replace the Firearms Act; The Criminal Administration (Suppression of Criminal Organizations) (Amendment) Act; The Immigration Restrictions (Commonwealth Citizens) (Amendment) Act and The Aliens (Amendment) Act.
“Additionally, the Government will be seeking parliamentary approval for other key policy and legislative measures designed to strengthen our crime-fighting efforts, enhance rehabilitation and reintegration of offenders and improve public order,” said the governor general.
Amendments are also expected to be made to the Corrections Act to modernise the framework governing the operations of the Department of Correctional Services, “and improve the care, management and rehabilitation of offenders”.
The Holness Administration also indicated that in the new fiscal year it intends to repeal the Plants (Quarantine) Act and replace it with the Plants Health Act, while repealing the Animals (Diseases and Importation) Act and replacing it with the Animal Health Act.
Sir Patrick further announced that the Administration intends to amend the Praedial Larceny (Prevention) Act, while changes to the Real Estate (Dealers and Developers) Act have been prioritised.
“This will give effect to the merger of the Real Estate Board, Commission of Strata Corporations and the Timeshare Registrar, into the Real Estate Authority of Jamaica. It will also address new dynamics of the industry that are not currently legislated, offer greater protection to purchasers, and update existing fines for breaches,” declared Sir Patrick.
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