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Finance Bill passed

By Andre Bagoo Sunday, April 6 2014

click on pic to zoom in
Hanuman devotees: At left, MP for Oropouche West Stacy Roopnarine accompanies devotees during a street procession celebrating  Hanuman Yatra in Penal ...
Hanuman devotees: At left, MP for Oropouche West Stacy Roopnarine accompanies devotees during a street procession celebrating Hanuman Yatra in Penal ...

LEGISLATION implementing sweeping changes to the laws governing the gaming industry as well as several other key Budget measures was passed in the House of Representatives early yesterday morning after yet another stormy sitting.

The Finance Bill 2014 was passed at 3.25am by a simple majority.

In wrapping up the debate, Finance and Economy Minister Larry Howai stated energy prices have remained “relatively stable” over the past three to four years, but the economy had moved from a negative position in 2011 to “a growth path in 2013.”

On the First Citizens Bank initial public offering (IPO) issue, he stated the matter remained under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The legislation introduces a stricter scheme of regulating the gaming industry, including an increase in licensing fees as well as an expansion of the net of taxation to include amusement machines.

Stiffer penalties to regulate the quarrying industry and to tackle the practice of illegal diesel sales are also to be introduced.

Additionally, other provisions include a $1,000 duty allowance for municipal police officers; $1 billion in energy sector incentives; validation of electronic transactions for government business; construction sector incentives and customs reforms.

Passage of the bill came after a sitting which saw Speaker Wade Mark tell PNM Port-of-Spain North/St Ann’s West MP Patricia McIntosh to sit.

The incident happened on Friday evening (the sitting had started earlier on that day at 1.30pm) at about 10.37pm, Mc Intosh was in the process of stating that ministers in the current government had been fired for immorality and made reference to three ministers who quit: Glenn Ramadharsingh; Chandresh Sharma and Jack Warner.

However, Mark warned her to stop that line noting the Standing Orders ban “imputing improper motives”.

“I have warned you about imputing improper motives,” Mark said.

“Facts are facts,” McIntosh, a former school principal, retorted.

Mark asked her to withdraw her remark and apologise.

“Withdraw that remark and apologise to the Chair or take your seat,” the Speaker said.

“Mr Speaker I am afraid that those facts are in the public domain,” the MP replied.

“Take your seat,” Mark then ordered.

But when the next speaker, Minister of Land and Marine Resources Jairam Seemungal was in the process of speaking, McIntosh was heard still objecting.

Mark rose and said, “Member for Port-of-Spain North St Ann’s West, I have ruled on your behaviour. If you continue to utter words designed to question my ruling I will ask you to leave for the rest of the evening.”

She eventually left the chamber. Parliament was adjourned to next Friday.

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