Legislators return to work after slow progress

| 10/04/2011

(CNS): Government only managed to push through two pieces of legislation during last week’s Legislative Assembly meetings after members spent several hours discussing the problems presented by immigration laws to fishermen on Thursday. It then faced technical problems with a government motion and extremely heated arguments about the previous administration’s deal with CUC, all of which slowed progress on Friday. Government did manage to pass an amendment to modernise the way ship and aircraft passenger lists are given to immigration and changes to the ICTA law to facilitate the new CCTV but will be returning on Monday to deal with the three new political seats.

Legislators became bogged down discussing the difficulties fishermenand anglers face when they want to go fishing on the spur of the moment but have to jump through cumbersome immigration and customs rules. The issue was raised when the deputy governor brought the immigration bill to facilitate the electronic submission of passenger lists.

Donovan Ebanks, one of the few members of the LA who is not a fisherman, reassured members that the regulations that would accompany the law would deal with streamlining the process which they and their constituents had to face when they wanted to go deep sea fishing outside of Cayman waters and also to facilitate the increasing number of fishing tournaments. The goal of the amendment, the deputy governor explained, was to improve security by having advanced notification of who is coming into the Cayman Islands and to increase efficiency at the airport by knowing who is leaving.

On Friday government had to defer its draft order to add two seats to the electoral district of George Town and one to Bodden Town, increasing the size of the Legislative Assembly, after it was pointed out that the language used in the schedule could have been interpreted as introducing single member constituencies. Although that is supported by the people, it is not a move that the current administration has any intention of introducing.

Minor changes to the Information Communication and Technology Law, which would facilitate government’s use of fibre optics installed by CUC but essentially paid for by their customers for the new CCTV project, dominated Friday’s meeting.

Despite the law being supported by both sides of the House, the issue created animosity between government and opposition when the debate turned into a row over the previous administration’s deal with CUC, which backbench MLA Cline Glidden referred to as a sweetheart deal for the power company.

When the opposition leader tried to demonstrate that the PPM’s deal was within the exact parameters that had been drawn up by the previous UDP administration, based on a copy of an MOU between it and CUC, the government benches began to cry foul and implied that the PPM leader should not be in possession of the document.

The opposition leader then cried foul in return after the speaker would no longer allow him to quote from the MOU at the insistence of the government benches. Alden McLaughlin said that the country’s parliament was becoming increasingly irrelevant as the debate was constantly being closed down.

The House then erupted as members yelled across the floor until attempts by the speaker to restore order finally worked when her gavel broke and hitthe leader of the opposition.

When they return on Monday morning, members are expected to debate the changes to the make-up of the LA, along with a number of amendments to laws relating to the offshore sector and the make-up of the Public Accounts Committee.

A second proposed amendment to the immigration law that would have facilitated the return of people who had been deported from the Cayman Islands, which was on the draft order paper for this latest session of the Legislative Assembly, has been withdrawn, CNS understands. It is not yet clear if this is a short term move to alter the wording of the amendment or a change of heart by government.

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  1. Shock and Awe says:

    On Monday Legis-laters will be putting forth a motion to purchase a new gavel for the Speaker. There is expected to be much heated debate on this issue. Both the UDP and PPM said the importance of this issue can not be understated. Which Ministry should pay for the new gavel is on the agenda, and although as Minister of finance, Mr. Bush stated there is no money for a new gavel, both he and Deputy Premier have offered to travel overseas to look at gavels. It is anticipated the Opposition will insist the gavel be purchased on island to help stimulate the economy while the Premier countered that he has been in discussions with a leading gavel maker. We will need to dredge the North Sound to bring in shiploads of timber, said the Premier. The Attorney General is looking into whether it should be considered a pre-meditated gavel attack or an accident.

  2. Anonymous says:

    ever wonder why cayman uses a turtle as its national symbol?????

    • petermilburn says:

      Should have been a Tortoise!!!!!!

    • Anonymous says:

      Why a turtle?  Guess you missed your primary school teachers explanation of the symbols on the coat of arms. Don’t mess with my heritage.