Fri | Mar 22, 2019

Hefty legislative agenda this quarter

Published:Wednesday | February 5, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Phillip Paulwell

Daraine Luton, Senior Staff Reporter

The Chief parliamentary counsel is currently preparing an Omnibus Banking Act, a structural benchmark under Jamaica's four-year extended fund facility with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The statute, which will, among other things, see the Bank of Jamaica being vested with the authority to issue binding rules on financial institutions, must be passed by the end of March.

Phillip Paulwell, leader of government business in the House of Representatives, served notice recently that the last quarter of the parliamentary year will be an active one.

Paulwell pointed to key IMF-required bills which must be passed before the parliamentary year ends.

The bills include an act to enact fiscal rules, the Omnibus Banking Act, a flexible work arrangement law, and the promulgation of a new electricity act.

The Omnibus Banking Act will set out in one statute provisions currently contained in three statutes - the Banking Act, the Financial Institutions Act, and the Bank of Jamaica (Building Societies) Act and regulations.

"The omnibus legislation would also set out the autonomy of the supervisor of banks and vests authority to grant and revoke licences with the Bank of Jamaica," a ministry paper tabled in Parliament says.

Paulwell also told the House that the Omnibus Banking Act will provide a "consolidated supervision of banks, near banks and building societies", including consolidated supervision of groups of companies.

The IMF has signalled that it is pressing ahead for Jamaica to undertake the next round of reforms, including strengthening the fiscal policy framework, reforming the securities dealers sector, and enhancing public financial management.

Paulwell described the legislative agenda as a "very hefty schedule", but stressed that the Government intends to complete those works by March 31.

BANKRUPTCY ACT MISSING

Notably absent from the list of IMF-required bills listed to be passed by March 31 is the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act.

The bill, which was tabled in the Senate just before the Christmas break, was sent to a joint select committee for consideration. The committee is to be chaired by Industry, Investment and Commerce Minister Anthony Hylton, and will include Members of Parliament Peter Bunting, Richard Parchment, Mikael Phillips, André Hylton, Audley Shaw, Pearnel Charles, Karl Samuda, and Delroy Chuck. It will also include Senators Mark Golding, Norman Grant, Imani Duncan-Price, Sophia Fraser-Binns, Alexander Williams and Nigel Clarke.

The Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act will repeal the 1880 Bankruptcy Act, which was last amended 19 years ago.

In the new act, the Government is proposing that a bankrupt who makes a fraudulent disposition of his property before or after the date of the initial bankruptcy event has committed an offence and is liable on conviction before a Resident Magistrate's Court to a fine of up to $1 million and/or up to one year in prison.

This week's big number: US$678.7

Estimate of the current account deficit for the fiscal year to September 2013, a reduction of US$347.8 million or a 33.8 per cent improvement when compared to the corresponding period in 2012-13, says Finance and Planning Minister Dr Peter Phillips.

MILLION

IMF CALENDAR

2014

Mar 20Third test results and SDR distribution

Mar 31Adoption of new fiscal rule

Finalise review of public sector employment and compensation

Broad tax reform takes effect

GOJ to implement legislation to deal with illegal financial operations

Omnibus banking law to be enactedJun 20Fourth test results and SDR distribution

Sept 22Fifth test results and SDR distributionDec 22Sixth test results and SDR distribution

2015

Mar 23 Seventh test results and SDR distribution

Jun 22Eighth test results and SDR distribution

Sept 21Ninth test results and SDR distributionDec 21 Tenth test results and SDR distribution

2016

Mar 21Eleventh test results and SDR distributionJun 20Twelfth test results and SDR distribution

Sept 22Thirteenth test results and SDR distributionDec 22Fourteenth test results and SDR distribution

2017

Mar 20Fifteenth test results and SDR distribution