Sweeping legislative agenda for St Lucia
CASTRIES, St Lucia, Wednesday May 02, 2012 – When Prime Minister Dr Kenny Anthony presents the budget address to parliament next Tuesday (May 8), St Lucians can expect far more than a new format for presenting both the government’s estimates of expenditure and the budget address.
A detailed programme is expected to be announced which will include legislation to address domestic and gang violence, electronically track offenders, undertake tax reform, and set up a Commercial Court.
Governor General Dame Pearlette Louisy, in her Throne Speech to Parliament unveiling government’s agenda for the 2012-2013 parliamentary session, said the administration had begun to review the Police Act and planned a new Police Bill.
“It will be important to widen our consultations beyond the police and key stakeholders to include the public,” the governor general announced.
Lawmakers are also expected to consider an electronic monitoring bill to tag and track certain categories of individuals on bail and on parole. Anti-gang legislation is also to be introduced to target gangs as agents of crime and go after the proceeds of crime.
“If we are to have success fighting drug trafficking and corruption we must ensure that we are able to confiscate the proceeds of criminal activity,” Dame Pearlette said.
Promising “substantive amendments” to the Money Laundering Prevention Act, the governor general said the government acknowledged “the transnational nature” of money laundering and the “need to harmonise our efforts consistent with international obligations”.
Dame Pearlette told St Lucians to expect a “robust legislative agenda” that addressed economic development and tax reform including the introduction of the Value Added Tax (VAT), employment, health, crime and security, education, tourism, agriculture, alternative sources of energy and a wide range of concerns relating to women, children, young people and seniors.
Legislation aimed at advancing the business environment will also include bills for consumer protection, a trade export promotion agency, and a law and policy governing competition in business. The governor said these bills, among other proposed legislation, will require “extensive discussions with stakeholders”.
St Lucia was anxious to improve the ease of doing business in the country and needed to retain its competitive edge in the Commonwealth Caribbean and among the developing nations of the world, the governor general noted.
The Kenny Anthony administration also plans to set up a Commercial Court with a “separate and distinct jurisdiction to handle exclusively all matters pertaining to business and commerce”, Dame Pearlette said, adding that legislation to establish the court is to be introduced after consultation with the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court.