AG advises caucus to get CIP on track

A parliamentary caucus just might be the way to get the citizenship by investment legislation back on track.

Attorney General Justin Simon said a “thorough” discussion between government members of parliament and senators should be organised before the Citizenship by Investment Programme (CIP) Bill makes its way back to the Lower House for debate.

“(This would allow) for a … thorough discussion in respect of the provisions, so we can have an idea of the particular concerns in respect of the provisions,” the attorney general said yesterday during an OBSERVER AM interview.

Simon has already presented this suggestion to Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer for consideration.

As the “ayes” generally have it, government anticipated a swift pass through the Senate. However, on February 13, four government senators sided with the opposition – blindsiding government and, in effect, putting the brakes on the legislation.

The Senate rejected the CIP Bill in its entirety.

Last week, Speaker of the House, D Gisele Isaac, said if the Bill was returned to the Lower House with a letter of transmittal, and with recommendations outlined, only the amendments would be debated in the Lower House.

However, as the Senate struck down the Bill in its entirety during the committee stage, Simon said the procedure is somewhat different.
In a subsequent interview with OBSERVER media, the attorney general said the Bill will “start afresh”, with every clause of the policy reintroduced in parliament and having to go back through the Senate, thereafter.

He said this reincarnation will be the “same Bill, same name, same provisions”, but a shorter debate might ensue. He noted, however, that a parliamentary caucus could aid in a smoother process this time around.

The AG also sought to dispel “talk” the Bill cannot be returned in this session and that the Lower House could ignore or override the Bill.

Although, he said, there are constitutional provisions that could allow this, the CIP Bill has not reached that stage as yet.
“If a Bill is rejected twice by the Senate, then the House, in the next session, can then override the negative vote of the Senate and send the Bill over to the governor general for signing into law,” Simon said.

This would have to occur in two successive sessions and there must be a three-month interval between sittings.

“This is not the case, as the Senate has only rejected it on one occasion, so that issue does not arise,” the attorney general declared.

The AG stressed the CIP Bill is “key” in respect of government budget policy for this financial year.

Government is banking on raising US $32 million in 2013, and with only eight months remaining in the calendar year, the legislation still has not been gazetted into law.