The Speech from the Throne is one outlining the Government’s Legislative Agenda for the new legislative season and, according to Governor Jaspert in his final such speech, this year’s agenda will focus on strengthening trade and economy, the people, and it will make provisions for the challenges of COVID-19.
The government will be looking to introduce laws such as electronic legislation to support the digital transformation of the public service and improve e-payments for customers.
Governor Jaspert said the VI State Administration and Coastal Zone Management Act will be introduced to provide for the establishment of the limits of the exclusive economic zone of the VI, also, the Flexible Working Arrangement Bill will come, given the challenges of COVID-19 and the lingering remnants of the 2017 hurricane on today’s labour force.
More upcoming legislation under that subsection includes the BVI Investment Bill, Incentive Legislative and the Non-Profit Organisation Act.
Under building a stable and diverse economy, the Governor said legislation will include the Virgin Islands Agriculture and Fisheries Marketing Authority Bill, which will seek to establish a statutory authority to serve as the primary authority on VI’s Food Security.
Amendments will come to Customs Management & Duties Act to encourage investment in ‘green’ products and more amendments to the Tobacco Products Control Act, to meet the WHO framework convention on tobacco control and regulate the industry.
The Environmental Management and Climate Management act will be introduced, the Liquor license Act will be modernised, and a Waste Management Act will be introduced. The government is also looking to reduce plastics and littering through another legislation.
A draft Water Supply and Sewage Bill will be pushed forward, in addition to an amendment to the BVI Health Services Authority Act as it relates to effective governance and management of the authority's mandate.
A key proposed legislation to strengthen local governance is the Integrity in Public Life Bill, which the Governor says will promote enhanced ethical conduct to prevent corruption in Government.
Other upcoming legislation includes the returning Police Act, the Disaster Management Bill, laws for traffic, Criminal Conduct Amendment Act, Sexual Offences Act, the Jury Act and more for law enforcement, emergency calls and other judicial areas.
For the People, the Government will also be focusing on several bills in educational development towards a sector that is technologically driven.
Laws for sports, children’s welfare, Social Security, Immigration, Border in the era of COVID-19 all form part of the new legislative agenda.
“Government during this first sitting of the Third Session of the Fourth House of Assembly will be swiftly moving forward with some of the legislation mentioned in this Speech from the Throne,” Governor Jaspert said.
“Finally, as this is my last speech from the Throne that I will make as Governor, may I take this opportunity to wish this house and every person in the British Virgin Islands my personal best wishes for the future,” he said.
According to H.E. Jaspert, the legislative agenda laid out for this new session will be monitored by the Premier's Office to ensure that it moves forward with 'fortitude and determination.'
He said as the need arises, however, other pieces of legislation not mentioned in the speech will be considered.