Dominica Parliament In Session


The Round-Up

After some lengthy debates which lasted for three days climaxing at about 10.30 p.m. Wednesday night, the Dominica Parliament adjourned Sine' Dei. But not before legislation’s brought to Parliament by government, were passed in the House.

Among them are an act,. Now in place is an amendment to the Theft Act, which deals with the theft of Agricultural produce, Livestock , and Domestic Animals. The proposed amendment made provision for curtailing the theft of agricultural produce, livestock and domesticated animals. Two aspects of the proposals were highlighted in the debate resulting in some changes to the original proposals.

The Bill in its original form had proposed a minimum of six months mandatory sentence for a first offence. However, after the expressed reservation of several members of the House including member for Mahaut Hon Julien Prevost, (Government Back Bencher) that section was amended resulting in the first offence now attracting a fine of $2000.

Another provision which was highlighted during the debate, called for the parent or guardian of a child or young person who committed an offence under the Act to be punished in much the same manner as if that parent or guardian had committed the offence.

On Tuesday, the House approved supplementary estimates of 2.2 million dollars for Government expenditure during the period ending June 30, 1997. From that total approved figure, about five hundred and eight thousand dollars is expected to come from grant funding.

Prior to the approval of the total package, there was extensive debate on the expenses which were necessary to facilitate the 1996 Youth Rally held at Castle Bruce and also the money required to meet the extension fee for construction work on the new Maternity Wing of the Princess Margaret Hospital. Both items involved some hundred thousand dollars of local funds.

Other significant areas for which money was approved were the rental of property for the accommodation of another Court, the construction of the Michael Douglas Boulevard in Portsmouth and repairs to a building to house the Basic Education Reform Programme.

Among the agencies and countries from which grant funds have been identified are the Government of Australia, the Republic of China on Taiwan, UNICEF, Commonwealth Fund for Technical Co-operation, the European Union, Caribbean Disaster Emergency Relief Agency (CDERA), Caricom Fisheries Resource Assessment and Management Programme (CFRAMP), and Nature Conservancy (USA).

A Bill in the name of Minister for Finance Julius Timothy, amending the Duty Free Shopping Act, got Parliament approval. Also, the Entertainment Act , the Sales Tax Act, and the Marriage Act, were all amended.

A Supplementary Budget of two point two million dollars was debated and approved, and about three point five million dollars loan was approved for the completion of the Delices/Petite Savanne Road Project.

The Bill which got the most heated debate in Parliament during this session, was the Bill to repeal the Electricity Supply Act, and replace it with a new one.

Member for Roseau Central Constituency Charles Saverin, argued that he and other Opposition members did not received the Order papers according to the time set by the House. Therefore, debate on this particular Bill should not be debated, since there was not enough time to study the Bill.

However, the Speaker of the House Honourable Ossie Symmes, disagreed with Mr. Saverin, and continued the debate on the Bill. The Bill eventually went through the Committee stage and was passed into law.

At Monday’s sitting of Parliament, Communication and Works Minister Earl Williams, told the House a feasibility study for providing pipe-born water to the Carib Territory and Atkinson, has been completed. He said the project will cost about EC two point seven million dollars.

Responding to a question by Labour Party Senator, Kelly Graneau of the Carib Territory, the Minister said, the feasibility study is funded jointly by the organisation of American (OAS) and the Government of Dominica. He also pointed out that 1.2 million have been secured, and his Government is seeking to secure the balance of funds from a particular funding agency.

He added that, work has started and will continue on this important and vital project, to the people of the Carib Territory and Atkinson.

When Parliament resumed on Tuesday, the Minister supported the Minister of Finance Julius Timothy's schedule for supplementary estimates to the 1996-97 Budget.

He told the House, the supplementary estimates shows that the Minister for Finance has planned the budget appropriately inspite of the limited resources which are available.

Parliamentary Representative for the Newtown Constituency Ossie Walsh responding to a remark made by the Minister of Communications and Works, which seem to indicate that Mr. Walsh was be-little the village of Castle Bruce, when he said that the National Youth rally should not be held in the country area, corrected the Minister, Mr. Walsh said, infact what he did say was that the Capital city should not have been deprived of a Youth Rally in Roseau.

When the Bill to amend the Theft Act , Chapter 10:33 of the Laws of Dominica, came up for debate, it received tremendous support by most members of Parliament. Government is seeking legislation to end the problem of predial larceny.

Representative for the Grand Bay Constituency, Pierre Charles, told Parliament, that he had several occasions of listening to complaints from villagers within his constituency. He feels that actions must be taken to protect Dominica's Farmers from the constant theft of their produce, after they have worked long and hard.

Mr. Pierre said not only farmers were suffering from the loss of their crops, but banana farmers as well, are experiencing the theft of their banana boxes and other imputs.

He told Parliament that he had no problem supporting the new legislation.

The Prime Minister in his contribution plead to the Parliament, to support the Bill, in order to assist farmers in dealing with their frustration, and to protect the production of food for local consumption, and also for export.

Up to late this evening, the Bill was still been debated by members of Parliament.

The Government got the approval of the Dominica Government to spend two million dollars on the continued development of the country.

Another three point five million dollars will be pumped into the Delices / Petite Savanne Road Project, as Parliament gave Government the borrowing power to obtain the necessary funds.

The Government argued that they are encountering unexpected difficulties, which are creating a cost-overrun to the original budget.

Parliamentary Representative for Petite Savanne, Urban Baron , applauded the road project, and told parliament, there seem to have been poor planning in the putting together of the new - road project.

He urged Parliament however, to do all that is necessary to ensure completion of the connecting road project. Parliamentary Representative for Roseau Central Constituency, Charles Saverin, stated that he supported the funds to complete the road, however , he had some concerns, which he documented on the Parliamentary records.

When the second session of the fifth Parliament reconvened at ten o'clock on Monday morning, a number of Bills were laid on the table by Government ministers.

Prime Minister Edison James laid on the table a Bill to amend the Theft Act, which seeks to curtail the theft of agricultural produce, livestock and domesticated animals. The Bill makes provisions for punishment of persons convicted of stealing, destroying or damaging agricultural produce.

It recommends a minimum of six-months imprisonment term for first offender(s) of this offence, and a one-year minimum term for second or subsequent offender(s) The Bill also allow the court to order compensation to be paid by any person(s) convicted of this offence.

Stiffer penalties are being recommended under the Bill, in the case of person(s) convicting of stealing livestock or domesticated animals.

A first-time offender could receive a minimum imprisonment term of one year, and a second of subsequent offence carries a two-year minimum imprisonment term.

A Bill to amend the Ex-servicemen Exemption Act and the Marriage Act was laid on the table by Community Development and Women's Affairs, Hon. Gertrude Roberts.

The Minister for Communications and Works and Housing, Earl Williams, introduced the for a new Act, dealing with the provision of electricity services and to repeal the existing Electricity Supple Act.

The bill seeks to retain an exclusive licence to the Dominica Electricity Services for a more efficient exercise and performance of the function relating to the supply of electricity.

An other legislative matter on the order paper is from Finance Minister Julius Timothy who introducing a bill to amend the Customs Act, as it relates to duty-free shopping, to enable the duty-free shopping system to function more effectively.

The Finance Minister will also seek amendments to the Entertainment Act, and the Sales Tax Act.

The Finance Minister also asked for Parliament approval for just over two million dollars in supplementary estimates, for the current financial year.

The greatest portion of that amount provided from local funds, is for a single amount of 533 thousand dollars, to go the Ministry of Health and Social Security.

The money will go to the retention fee for contraction work, on the new maternity wing at the Princess Margaret Hospital.

The two second largest amount of local funds, EC 250 thousand dollars respectively, are provided for the cost of on-going activities, related to the construction of the Mike Douglas Boulevard and the cost of rehabilitation works to the Penville-Blenheim road.

One hundred and seventy thousand dollars from local funds has been apportioned to refurbish a unit at the Canefield Industrial Site to provide office space for Ecseda, Adcu, Cardi and IICA.

Other significant amounts of the supplementary estimates financed through local funds, include one hundred fourth eight thousand dollars to meet salaries of 14 additional Community Health Aides, and $71,500 to meet expenses necessary to facilitate the 1996 youth rally held at Castle Bruce this year for the first time. Under grant financing, the largest amount of $104,000 from the French government is for repairs to the Canefield Airport Terminal building.

Other grant funds include one hundred and two thousand dollars from the European Union for work on various feeder roads and 67 thousand dollars or 25 thousand U.S. dollars from the Republic of Taiwan, to assist the Ministry of Education in its rehabilitation effort following Hurricanes Marilyn and Louis.

Prime Minister Edison James at the lunch break, told reporters that an attempt by Mr. Charles Saverin to say the proceedings of the present session of Parliament “frivolous and vexations”. He was responding to a claim of the Leader of the Freedom Party and Member fro the Roseau Central that he had received the order paper less that four clear days before the setting as required by the rules.

Speaking immediately after the prayer to open the session, Mr. Saverin claimed to have received his papers on Wednesday 11 at 6. p.m., and said that the Thursday and the Friday following can be qualified as days according to the rule.

But the PM said that receiving papers less than four days had become settled practice, since the House has met several occasions in the past with papers being received on a Thursday and sometimes on a Friday. He said the House can set its own rules.

Speaker Ossie Symes ruled that against the background of standing practice the proceedings will continue, but that he will seek legal advice on the matter and will summon the Standing Orders Committee to discuss the matter.

The House adjourned at 10.00 p.m. on Monday, and will resume at 10.00 a.m. on Tuesday.

CaKaFete 1996
Created: Wednesday, September 18, 1996, 10:38:34 PM