Thursday, January 10, 2008

The Amended Bill on Legislators' Transparency Passed by the 1st House of Assembly

The 1st House of Assembly held its First Session, during which the Register of Interests (Amendment) Act was passed. Before the Bill was adopted, it went through the second and third readings, followed by the discussion during the committee stage. This Bill was presented to the Legislative Council (now House of Assembly) more than a year ago but did not come into effect. The current Bill is expected to come into effect in the shortest time.

Premier Ralph T. O’Neal, when spoke in the House of Assembly, noted the importance of the Bill, as it is important for people to know that their representatives are not afraid to disclose their interests. Premier also mentioned his interests are in Government organizations, VISAR, Humane Society, Church and schools and said that, if any legislation is being considered, it would be known that he has interests in those organisations.

The second and third readings of the Bill were backed up by the Deputy Premier Dancia Penn-Sallah, who said she was pleased to stand in support of such a measure. She stated that a Bill with a similar name was introduced to the House and had its first reading in 1994.

Most of the House representatives, including Minister for Education and Culture Andrew Fahie, Deputy Speaker Keith Flax, and Territorial-at-Large representative Irene Penn O'Neal, expressed their support of the Bill.

Talking about the current legislation initiatives in the BVI, we cannot but mention the loss of one of the Territory's outstanding legislators – former representative of the Fifth District Ethlyn Smith, who died on December 31, 2007. Smith is remembered for her years of work in the Ministries of Communication and Work, and in the Ministry of Natural Resources and Labour. After retiring from the Civil Service in 1992, she wanted to work in another capacity, and in 1995 she became one of the first two women who won the elections.

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