Sunday, December 17, 2017

Securities Bill passed


talking it out: Housing Minister Dr Roodal Moonilal, right, speaks to Finance Minister Lary Howai during yesterday's sitting of the Lower House. –Photo: ISHMAEL SALANDY

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THE SECURITIES Bill 2012 was passed unanimously during yesterday's sitting of Parliament.

The Bill required a special majority of 26 members and received 37 votes, 29 from the Government bench and eight from the Opposition with no abstentions.

Parliament needed to pass the Securities Bill, aimed at strengthening the regulatory and supervisory capacity of the securities industry, by the end of the year or this country would have faced being delisted by the International Organisation of Securities Commissions.

During yesterday's sitting held at Tower D, International Waterfront Centre, Port of Spain, Diego Martin North East MP Colm Imbert raised concerns that members of the private sector who will be impacted by the passage of the Bill were not consulted.

He noted that Finance Minister Larry Howai "was told" that the Bill was subject to widespread consultation but this was not the case.

Imbert said during the Joint Select Committee (JSC) deliberations on the Bill, communication was received in the form of a letter from the Chamber of Industry and Commerce.

He read the letter which stated that when the new version of the Bill was published for consideration in mid May 2012, a group of companies met and submitted comments to Nortin Jack of the Securities and Exchange Commission.

He went on to read that the Chamber was not aware of the final version of the Bill until it recently became public.

"That is just wrong Mr Speaker, if you are changing a regime within the financial sector as important as the regulation of the securities industry and you have met with stakeholders common courtesy demands that at least you let them know whether you have taken their comments into account or not," said Imbert.

Imbert pointed out that the Chamber stated that additional changes were made to the Bill and stakeholders were not given the opportunity to consult.

Noting that the Chamber received no feedback on its recommendations nor was it consulted on new changes to the Bill, Imbert appealed to Howai to take into consideration all the proposals and concerns that were submitted.

Imbert produced another document, which he received last Thursday and which contains a number of concerns of private sector companies on the Bill.

This, he said, confirmed his view that there was no proper consultation on the legislation.

Imbert listed the companies which submitted recommendations: Ansa McAL, Royal Bank of Canada (RBC), Guardian Holdings, Republic Bank, Neal and Massy Holdings, Sagicor Asset Management, Sagicor Life, One Caribbean Media Limited and the West Indian Tobacco Company.

"These companies came together and sent their comments into the Government in June 2012 and having now looked at the final product they have a number of concerns," said Imbert.

He asked Howai to accommodate these concern from the private entities. The House suspended for a little over an hour to discuss some of the private sector concerns.

Following the discussion Howai said that there was widespread consultation on the Bill but not "widespread feedback" or subsequent distillation of the feedback to those who participated.

"I take the point and I understand that in terms of how this process works in the future we need to ensure that the private sector gets the feedback in time to distil it and provide any further comments so that we have a very broad based view of what the concerns are and how they need to be addressed so that when we put it into the final bill it doesn't come as a surprise to anyone," he said.

Imbert also criticised the Government on rushing the deliberations on the Bill before the JSC.

Noting that the Bill contained some 178 clauses, some of which were "highly complex", Imbert said, "this really raises all the issues of Section 34 and the Anti Gang legislation and so on".