By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
THE government’s legislative agenda has not hit a dull patch, Press Secretary Anthony Newbold says.
Many of the government’s most anticipated bills have not been debated and passed in Parliament. Some of them, like the Integrity Commission Bill and the National Intelligence Agency Bill, were tabled more than a year ago but have yet to come up for debate.
Long promised changes to the Bahamas Nationality Act to address citizenship inequities in the country have not been tabled.
Typically, administration officials have said the government has to instead prioritise protecting the financial services sector which has faced considerable pressure from such international organisations as the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development. This surprised some observers when parliamentarians spent last week debating and passing the Bahamas Baptist Missionary and Educational Convention Incorporation Bill, a bill that does not concern the financial services sector.
Talking about it yesterday, Mr Newbold said: “You talk about the government being the government of all people. The Baptists need to be able to access whatever non-profits access and you can’t say this denomination that for the longest time had the largest amount of people in the country, you can’t say it’s not a priority, let’s go deal with the Integrity Commission. Yeah the Integrity Commission is important, but the Baptists, make sure the Baptists are straight like everybody else.”
The Bahamas Baptist Bill was first tabled in Parliament in September this year while the Integrity Commission Bill was tabled in October of 2017.
Mr Newbold insisted the government’s legislative plans have been thwarted by headwinds facing the financial sector.
“You make these plans,” he said, “but the second pillar of the Bahamian economy, financial services, you can’t afford for that not to function the way you want it to. The deputy prime minister has been travelling for weeks now, you got to get that right. Until you get these financial mattes addressed properly, you won’t get to the next ones.
The good thing about that is, the government has another three years. So yes, you haven’t gotten through the Integrity Commission Bill and all these other things that the government intends to get to, the prime minister for instance talked about term limits, but, no, you have to deal with these priority issues.”
Parliament resumes today. It is expected to debate an amendment to the Central Bank of the Bahamas Act that would allow the government to go after money held in dormant accounts, Mr Newbold said.