The parliamentary opposition has submitted for answers from the government during today’s (Thursday) meeting of Parliament, questions about integrity legislation, medical marijuana, and freedom of information.
The Unity Labour Party administration is yet to introduce integrity legislation, which it promised in the campaign for the March 2001 general elections, which brought the party to office.
Former leader of the Opposition, Arnhim Eustace, Member for East Kingstown, will ask Minister of Finance, Economic Planning, Sustainable Development and Information Technology, Camillo Gonsalves a question about integrity legislation.
The question is: “Is the Government contemplating the establishment of integrity legislation as in the case of so many other countries to monitor the assets and liabilities of members of parliament; and if in the affirmative when can such legislation be expected?”
Eustace would also ask the finance minister if the government has any intentions of establishing a national health insurance programme to assist the public in financing their health insurance needs; and, if so, when will such a programme be established.
Eustace’s New Democratic Party has repeatedly promised to implement a national health insurance plan in St. Vincent.
In 2000, the NDP administration hired the University of the West Indies to develop a national health insurance plan for SVG.
When the NDP lost the March 2001 election to the ULP, that plan was ready for implementation, the NDP has said.
Also during today’s meeting of Parliament, St. Clair Leacock, Member for Central Kingstown, will ask Minister of Agriculture Forestry, Fisheries and Rural Transformation, Saboto Caesar about the medical marijuana industry that his government says it plans to introduce in SVG.
Leacock’s question reads: “To date the Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines has not formally invited the opposition NDP into any consultation on the proposed legitimisation of the medicinal and religious use of marijuana. (The Marijuana Industry). Be that as it may, will the Honourable Minister now share with the Honourable House any advice he has received to date from the following stakeholders: the Medical Association, the pharmacists, the air and sea carriers, the targeted ports of entry in the USA, Canada, UK and Caribbean, the Royal St. Vincent and the Grenadines Police Force, any other.”
Meanwhile, opposition senator Kay Bacchus-Baptiste, will ask Prime Minister, Minister of National Security, Legal Affairs, Grenadines Affairs and Energy, Ralph Gonsalves about the status of the Freedom of Information Act and when will it be truly operational.
Gonsalves’ government passed the Freedom of Information Act since 2003 but it is yet to become operational.
Other questions on the order paper relate to the status of the initiatives under the Banana Adjustment Measures (BAM), a 10-year European Union- SVG programme that is ending soon; the proposed new port at Rose Place, Kingstown; the arrowroot industry, and the proposed sand mining operations at Larakai and Wallibou in North Leeward.
Opposition lawmakers will also ask questions about the debt to GDP ratio, water catchments in the Southern Grenadines, and the impact of sargassum on the nation’s beaches.
Three bills are down to receive their first reading,
They are the Mustique Company Limited (Agreement amendment) Bill, 2018, the Copyright (Amendment) Act, 2018, and the Child Justice Bill, 2018.