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Govt agrees to meet Opposition on legislation

Friday, January 12, 2018
Finance Minister Colm Imbert, left, listens to Minister in the Office of the Attorney General and Legal Affairs and Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister, Stuart Young during the post cabinet press briefing yesterday.

The Government yesterday agreed to meet with Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar on two critical pieces of legislation— the failed Anti-Gang Bill and the Anti-Terrorism Bill to fight the criminal elements who have been creating mayhem and havoc in the country.

In a January 10 letter to Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley, Persad- Bissessar stated that based on the country’s 494 murders for 2017, with another 23 killings in the last 10 days, she proposed that the Government and Opposition “meet forthwith with a view of agreeing to a bi-partisan legislative approach in the fight against crime and the criminal element.”

The news brought a smile to the face of Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister Stuart, who heard for the first time about Persad-Bissessar’s letter to the PM during yesterday’s Cabinet media briefing at the Diplomatic Centre, St Ann’s.

“It is great news we welcome it,” Young said, smiling from ear-to-ear.

Young said it was the police who have been asking for anti-gang legislation and it was a pity the bill failed after the Opposition did not support last month.

He said the legislation was needed will help the police gather intelligence with regards to gangs and gang activity which would be converted into evidence.

“The Government heeded that cry and took it Parliament twice…the Opposition failed to support it. Maybe, that is water under the bridge if the Opposition Leader is holding out that they are prepared to sit and discuss it now…we will do so.”

Young said the Government has offered to the Opposition legal advice before which can be made available to them again.

“We are prepared to work day and night to work on the consensus of the legislation.”

Young pointed out that under the Standing Orders of Parliament, the failed Anti-Gang Bill could not return to the House after six months time.

“However, these are Standing Orders and Parliamentarians are the ones who determine how we conduct our business. I have not looked at it specifically. But my legal background would suggest to me that it is always possible if the parties agree that we can abridge the time and come to Parliament before that six months period, I am sure we can pass a motion abridging the time.”

He said with the Government support, the bill can return to the Parliament in the shortest possible time.

“The Government is always ready, willing and able to do the work that is necessary to get legislation to the Parliament.”

Young said seeing that the Opposition had supported its presidential candidacy Paula-Mae Weekes on Monday, this has given him hope that they will get the Opposition full backing on the Anti-Gang Bill to deal go after the criminals.


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