Parliament to Debate Seven Bills when it meets Today

Seven Bills are down for debate when the Lower House of Parliament meets today.

Prime Minister and Minister for Finance the Hon. Gaston Browne will move the second and third readings of the Antigua and Barbuda Merchant Shipping (Amendment) Bill, the Delimitation of Maritime Space (Antigua and Barbuda and the Republic of France in the Caribbean Region) (Ratification of Agreement) Bill and the Tax Administration and Procedure Bill, 2017

The Antigua and Barbuda Merchant Shipping (Amendment) Bill amend the original Act of 2006 to make it possible for the Registrar to grant a certificate of registry to a ship where the owner of the ship has qualified or is in the process of qualifying 11, to own an Antigua and Barbuda registered ship.  The provisional registration can only be done where the administrative requirements preliminary to registration has commenced .

The provisional registration is valid for a period of six months, but may be extended for a further six months at the discretion of the Registrar.

Also down for second and third readings are the Firearms (Amendment) Bill, the Criminal Prosecutions Service Bill and the Larceny (Amendment) Bill, 2017.  Attorney General and Minister for Legal Affairs, the Hon. Steadroy Benjamin will lead off the debate.

The Firearms (Amendment) Bill, will amend the Firearms Act by revising the existing penalty provisions and introducing more stringent penalties for offenders convicted of offences under the Firearms Act.

The Government therefore has decided to delete the imposition of a fine as an option from the from the sentencing provision and limit the penalty for offences committed against the Firearm Act to a prison term only.

The Criminal Prosecutions Service Bill establishes the Office of the Criminal Prosecutions Service under the direction of the Director of Public Prosecutions, who is appointed under the Constitution of Antigua and Barbuda.  The Bill further addresses the powers and functions of the DIPP in relation to the prosecution of criminal cases in Antigua and Barbuda.

The Office, which the Bill proposes to establish is designed to be independent of any person or authority in so far as it relates to the exercise of the powers conferred upon the Director of Public Prosecutions by the Constitution.

The Bill also addresses the powers and functions conferred upon police prosecutors and public officers by law to institute criminal proceedings against offenders of those laws.  These powers are transferred to the Criminal Prosecutions Service Department in fulfilment of the powers vested in the DPP by the Constitution.

The Bill further addresses and proposes fair and reasonable arrangement to enable police officers, currently attached to the Office of the Criminal Prosecutions Service to decide whether to transfer permanently to the Office of the Criminal Prosecutions Service or return to the Police Force.

Also down for debate is the Disabilities and Equal Opportunities Bill, to be presented by The Honourable Minister for Social Transformation and Human Resource Development, Samantha Marshall.

The Bill proposes to expound the principles of equality and non-discrimination in relation to persons with disabilities by highlighting and enforcing the rights of such persons in accordance with those stated in the Constitution.

The Bill also establishes the Antigua and Barbuda National Council of/For Persons with Disabilities, which is vested with legal personality, and has several critical functions to perform including advising the Minister on all matters relating to persons with disabilities as well as formulating a detailed national policy to ensure that persons with disabilities receive adequate services which cater to their specific needs.

In addition, the Bill also establishes the Disabilities and Equal Opportunities Rights Tribunal which has the responsibility of hearing complaints filed with the Council which allege non-compliance with the provisions of the Act and rendering a decision on such complaints.

The House will also debate a motion by the Honourable Prime Minister and Minister for Finance and Corporate Governance, Gaston Browne, authorizing the Government to borrow US $48, 859, 000 from the Caribbean Development Bank for the purpose of assisting the Government in financing the rehabilitation and upgrade of the Anchorage Road, Old Parham Road, Sir Sidney Walling Highway and Valley Road North and associated drainage and infrastructure.

Parliament will convene at 10 a.m.



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