Sunday, February 18, 2018

House holds hand on money bills

PRIME Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar yesterday moved a motion asking that the House of Representatives not proceed with sending two money bills, which had not been passed by the Senate, to President Anthony Carmona for assent.

The motion was approved.

Section 64(1) of the Constitution of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago stipulates that if a money bill is not passed by the Senate without amendment within one month, it should be presented to the President for assent.

The two money bills that fit that particular criterion and could have been presented to the President for assent were the Judges Salaries and Pensions (Amendment) Bill, 2013 and the Retiring Allowances (Legislative Service) (Amendment) Bill, 2014.

The two bills were passed unanimously in the Lower House on June 24, before being sent to the Senate.

The bills would have made judges, members of Parliament and the Senate the beneficiaries of major improvements in their retirement benefits. 

Persad-Bissessar said there were “strong objections in some quarters” to the bills.

A special select committee of the Senate was established to consider the details of the bills and to report to the Upper House.

The special select committee will be unable to complete its work as mandated, however, because this session of the Parliament is to be prorogued at midnight on Thursday.

The Fifth Session of the Tenth Parliament is scheduled to begin on Monday at 1.30 p.m.

Persad-Bissessar said the Senate has recommended that a similar committee be appointed in the next session to complete work on the two Money Bills.

The Procurement Bill, which was passed in the Senate and sent to the Lower House, would lapse, Persad-Bissessar said, “because I understand there are several persons who wish to speak and there are several amendments suggested by the Opposition”.

She said the Procurement Bill will be presented at the next session of Parliament.

The next session of Parliament will see amended Standing Orders being used in the Lower House.

The last sitting of Parliament before it was prorogued saw Senate amendments from four bills being approved.

The Miscellaneous Provisions (Administration of Justice) Bill, 2014 was approved by a vote of 26 for, seven against and one abstention.

The Indictable Offences (Committal Proceedings) Bill, 2014, the Miscellaneous Provisions (Prisons) Bill, 2014 and the Motor Vehicles and Road Traffic (Amendment) Bill, 2014 were also approved.