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Demands from IMF force Senate rush

Published:Friday | March 26, 2010 | 12:00 AM
The pomp and pageantry of Parliament's ceremonial opening can be seen at no better time than when the guard of honour gets prepared for its inspection. - Norman Grindley/Chief Photographer

Daraine Luton, Senior Staff Reporter

THE STIPULATIONS of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has forced the Government to rush through the passing of a piece of legislation which fell off the Order Paper last legislative year.

"I have been advised by the Ministry of Finance that this bill has to be completed on or before the 31st of March," leader of government business in the Senate, Dorothy Lightbourne, said yesterday.

"It is so necessary for Jamaica to meet its obligation under the requirements of the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force, of which Jamaica is a member state and also consequent IMF conditionalities," Lightbourne added.

However, the Senate squabbled over the process by which the Government was seeking to get the bill approved yesterday. The Opposition People's National Party (PNP) has said it does not want to be left without the option of attending today's sitting of the Senate.

A.J. Nicholson, the leader of opposition business, said the PNP would like to be guided by the report of the joint select committee which considered the bill as well as the bill passed by the House of Representatives.

Lightbourne had promised to furnish the Opposition with copies of the reports but had not kept her word. She later promised to provide it at the end of yesterday's sitting.

Groundbreaking bill

"This bill is a groundbreaking bill. We are only going to have it tonight to be considered. We were very pleased to have learnt that the report of the joint select committee would have been given to us. That is what we would have used to make our selves fully acquainted with what is in the bill," Nicholson said.

"We don't wish not to be in the chamber. We love debating. We don't want to go outside. We love to debate," Nicholson added.

His comment was greeted by shouts of "don't come" from some government senators.

Meanwhile, Lightbourne said it was not necessary for the report to be given to the Opposition as the House of Representatives had already took into consideration the report of the joint select committee.

"They can read the report but it is the bill that will be debated," Lightbourne said.

The Financial Investigations Division (FID) bill provides for the establishment of a department of government to be headed by a chief technical director who will advise the finance minister on policy relating to the detecting, prevention and control of financial crime. The FID is also to collect, request, receive, process ad analyse information relating to financial crimes.

The bill establishing the division was passed in the House of Representatives last session but had fallen off the Order Paper.