Eleven Bills to be tabled when parliament convenes on Tuesday

Eleven Bills are down on the Order Paper for debate when the Lower House of Parliament convenes today, Tuesday.

Attorney General and Minister for Legal Affairs, the Hon. Steadroy Benjamin will move the first reading of the Public Defenders Bill, 2020 and the Integrity in Public Life (Amendment) Bill, 2020.

The Honourable Minister for Health, Wellness and the Environment, Molwyn Joseph will move the first, second and third readings of the Food Safety Bill, the Quarantine Bill and the Hemp Bill, 2020.

The Food Safety Bill has been developed in keeping with international best practices and standards.  As such, the object of the Bill are to coordinate and integrate food safety at all stages of the food chain from production, to manufacture, to import  and consumption of food; to ensure food safety while enabling a competitive and commercially supportive environment for food businesses; to establish an integrated approach to food safety among the OECS Protocol Member States in order to provide for a more efficient, effective, transparent and coordinated administration throughout the food chain; to regulate food quality; and to boost confidence in trade in food.

The Quarantine Bill, 2020 replaces the old Act, Cap 361, which focusses on the control of the introduction and spread of specified infectious disease.  The new Act focuses on the control of the introduction and spread of events that are likely to result in a public health emergency of international concern.

Under the new Act, there will be established a Quarantine Authority which is comprised of stakeholders from varied backgrounds ranging from medicine, public health, customs, nursing, immigration, port authority and the law.

In addition, the Act establishes a National IHR Focal Point which comprises a committee to include: the Chief Veterinary Officer, the Chief Health Inspector, the Medical Officer of Health, the Director of NODS and the Principal Nursing Officer.  Their main function is to consult with the WHO and the Quarantine Authority in Antigua and Barbuda and to consolidate the various communications between these bodies to ensure that there is a free and timely flow of information in respect of the health situation occurring in Antigua and Barbuda.

The Hemp Bill, also to be introduced by Minister Molwyn Joseph, is designed to provide for the regulation and control of the growth, manufacture and trade of hemp and hemp infused products and to regulate the use of hemp for industrial, medicinal, supplemental and scientific purposes within Antigua and Barbuda, and for other connected purposes.

The Hon. Minister for Foreign Affairs, Immigration and International Trade, E. P. Chet Greene will move the first, second and third readings of the Immigration and Passport (Amendment) Bill, 2020 which makes clear the powers of the Chief Immigration Officer to perform her duties where it concerns a prohibited or illegal immigrant to voluntarily leave Antigua and Barbuda or be arrested and brought before a Magistrate for a deportation order. 

The Hon. Attorney General and Minister for Legal Affairs will move the second and third readings of the Civil Registration (Vital Statistics)Bill, 2020 which focusses on the registration of vital statistics and other life events with a view to gathering of statistics having to do with matters affecting human development index.

The Bill replaces the Births and Deaths (Registration) Act which was drafted in 1871 and which, because of the passage of time, no longer meets approved standards for the collection of information necessary for the formulation of social policy and initiatives and other aspects of development planning and verification of identity.

The Honourable Prime Minister and Minister for Finance and Corporate Governance, Gaston Browne will move the first, second and third readings of the Eastern Caribbean Securities Regulatory Commission Bill and the Antigua and Barbuda Merchant Shipping (Amendment) Bill, 2020.

The Easter Caribbean Securities Regulatory Commission Bill, 2020 provides for the implementation of the Agreement establishing the Eastern Caribbean Securities Regulatory Commission and for matters connected therewith.

The Prime Minister will also move the first, second and third readings of the Securities Bill and the Investment Fund Bill, 2020.  The Securities Bill, 2020 will provide for the protection of investors in securities in and from within the Currency Union; by regulating the securities market, exchanges and persons engaged in securities business, by regulating the public issue of securities; to reduce systemic risk and to provide for related matters.

The Investment Fund Act will overhaul the regulatory regime for collective investment schemes and specifically reform certain sections of the Act.  It will also improve and modernize the law to ensure that it is consistent with international standards and best practices.

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