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Fourth HoA 'one of the most productive terms'; 101 pieces of legislation passed- Gov Rankin

Fourth HoA 'one of the most productive terms'; 101 pieces of legislation passed- Gov Rankin

The Government of the Virgin Islands has laid out its legislative agenda for the start of the Fifth Session of the current Fourth House of Assembly (HoA), which is ‘likely’ to be the last, according to Governor John J. Rankin, CMG, in his deliverance of the 2023 Speech from the Throne.

Mr Rankin, during the First Sitting of the Fifth Session of the Fourth House of Assembly today, January 24, 2023, said the Fifth Session of the House is focused on bringing forward legislation in the context of "Resilience, Revenue, Reform, and Recovery: The Virgin Islands in Transition."

The Government of the Virgin Islands has laid out its legislative agenda for the last Session of the current Fourth House of Assembly in the Virgin Islands which is ‘likely’ to be the last according to Governor John J. Rankin in his deliverance of the 2023 Speech from the Throne.

101 legislation passed so far in Fourth HoA - Throne Speech

“This theme is aligned with the 2023 Budget Address and its strategic objectives and outcomes of Government agencies. As this is likely to be the last Session of the current Fourth House of Assembly, it is appropriate to take a moment to reflect on the work and achievements of the current Fourth House of Assembly over the last three years,” he said.

The Speech from the Throne, which highlights the legislative agenda of the Government of the Virgin Islands is written by the government of the day and delivered by the Governor.

Mr Rankin said 101 pieces of legislation were passed in the Fourth House so far.

According to the Governor, during the First Session of the Fourth House of Assembly, which commenced in March 2019, six pieces of legislation were passed and enacted and during the Second Session, 30 pieces of legislation were passed.

In the Third Session, he related, some 47 pieces of legislation were passed and the Fourth Session saw 18 pieces of legislation passed through the House.

“With the Fourth House of Assembly having considered and successfully passed 101 pieces of legislation in a single term and in extenuating circumstances such as the COVID-19 Global Pandemic, which began in 2020, it is fair to say that this has been one of the most productive terms of any legislature in the Virgin Islands – if not the most productive term,” he said.

Gov't should be proud of achievement - Governor Rankin

Governor Rankin added that elected Government and all Honourable Members should be proud of the achievement and that citizens should note how their legislature has functioned in addressing its responsibility to the people's business.

For the new session, he said Government will seek to amend the BVI Health Services Authority Act, 2004 (No. 14 of 2004) and the Tobacco Products Control Act, 2006 (No 18 of 2006) as well as the Social Security Act (CAP. 266).

In addition, he added that the Government also intends to make amendments to the Social Security (Contributions) Regulations, the Social Security (Benefits) Regulations, and the Social Security (National Health Insurance) Regulations to improve the effectiveness and sustainability of the social insurance system.

Public Service Bill will be introduced as well as The Flexible Working Arrangements Bill, which will be brought to the House supported by policy. The government will seek to amend the Police Act (CAP.165) as well as the Proceeds of Criminal Conduct Act, 1997.

He said the Witness Anonymity Legislation will be brought forward to ensure the protection of witnesses and the preservation of their rights by making provisions for a court to make a witness anonymity order to protect the witness's safety, prevent damage to property, and prevent real harm to the public interest.

More areas to be looked at will include the Immigration and Passport Regulations, 2014, Magistrate's Code of Procedure, Chapter 44, the Criminal Procedures Rules and Amendments to the Elections Act.

The government will also seek to amend the Road Traffic Act (CAP. 218) to modernise the law as well as seek to amend the Wickham's Cay Development Authority Act (CAP. 281)

More legislation to come

“During this Fifth Session, Government will seek to have the adjustments to the Education Amendment Act (2014) and its Regulations completed to ensure that teaching and learning align with the needs of students to become proficient in their overall development with further adjustments to consider the drive of S.T.E.A.M. – Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math education."

Governor Rankin disclosed that several pieces of legislation will be brought forward with regard to updating and strengthening the Anti-Money Laundering/Combating the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) legal framework.

These will include the following enactments: Anti-money Laundering Regulations, Anti-money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Code of Practice, Criminal Justice (International Cooperation) Act and Customs Management and Duties Act.

Other areas to be looked at will be the Drugs (Prevention of Misuse) Act, the Trustee Act and the Financial Services (Private Trust Companies) Regulations to ensure full compliance with the FATF requirements with regard to the application of AML/CFT obligations in relation to trusts.

The Governor said Legislation will also be brought forward with respect to updating the regulatory framework via The Banking Code, The Banking Act, The Trust and Company Service Providers Act, The Financial Services Commission Act, The Credit Union Act, Virgin Islands Deposit Insurance Act, and the Virgin Islands Deposit Insurance Regulations as well as amendments will also be brought forward for the Customs Management and Duties Act.
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