Legislators hit constitutional stumbling block

| 06/12/2010

(CNS): Lawmakers didn’t get very far this morning when the Legislative Assembly resumed its sitting. Although members started their meeting at 9am, an hour earlier than the usual start time, they were soon bogged down in constitutional difficulties. Government had intended to complete business on the passage of two amended pieces of legislation Monday but a constitutional question raised by the member for North Side meant government managed to complete work on only one law before adjourning the sitting until Thursday. During the committee stage of the Tax Concessions Amendment, Ezzard Miller pointed out that the law referred to the ‘Governor in Cabinet’, a term which he believed had been abolished in the new constitution.

The Cayman Islands Constitution 2009, which came into force in November last year, separates the country’s elected arm of government from the executive arm more clearly than in the past. As a result , areas that fall under the elected government’s remit, such as financial matters like this particular law dealing with tax concessions, no longer need to refer to the ‘Governor in Cabinet’ but simply ‘Cabinet’.

The controversial legislation will give the elected government the power to grant tax concessions to local as well as offshore or exempted companies whenever it deems it to be in the public interest without coming to the Legislative Assembly for approval. When the law was presented to the LA last month, the ensuing heated debate resulted in a walk-out by the entire opposition after East End member Arden McLean refused to withdraw his remarks concerning the premier’s motivation for bringing the new law.

Miller raised his concerns about the legislation to the press last week and said he would be asking a number of questions about the law during the committee stage since he was absent from the chamber during the debate. However, the independent member got no further than his first question as members got bogged down in debate over the meaning and definitions of the government in Cabinet, the language of the new constitution and whether or not the change had actually been properly defined.

The speaker, acting as chair of the committee, made the decision to adjourn the meeting until the attorney general could research the position and interpret the new constitutional position.

The parliament is expected to reconvene on Thursday, when government will debate, among other things, the amendment to the evidence law and the new district councils bill.

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Comments (3)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    That’s the only contribution Ezzard can make to these issues.

  2. Anonymous says:

    The Attornewy General’s office seems completely disfunctional.

  3. Anonymous says:

    muppetts….. governor where are you?