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Strengthening of legislative drafting offices in the Caribbean

This project is aimed at supporting the operations and improving the technical capacity of legislative drafting offices in Commonwealth Caribbean member countries, particularly small states.

Region: Caribbean
Host: CARICOM Secretariat
Start date: 30/01/2013
End date: 30/06/2016
Policy area: Rule of Law
Policy expert: Steven Malby
Project manager: Pauline Campbell

Background

In doing so, it is expected that small states’ drafting offices will be better able to meet the legislative requirements of government both in terms of national legislation and compliance with international treaty obligations, particularly the Treaty of Chaguaramas and the Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME).

Goal

The principle beneficiaries of this project in the short term will be staff in the drafting offices of smaller states in the Caribbean who will receive training & mentoring in legal drafting and will be eligible for sponsorship to follow a formal on-line post-graduate diploma course (2 years duration). In the longer term the country will benefit through an improved legislative environment which should enable greater economic activity and a modern, just and responsive judicial system.

Impact

With the recent Extended Fund Facility (EFF) Agreement with the International Monetary Fund and the Inter-American Development Bank, the Government of Jamaica has undertaken time-bound commitments to pass various pieces of legislation aimed at reforming and restructuring the Jamaican economy. Impact of CFTC technical assistance included the drafting and enactment of the following legislation: Fiscal Incentives (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act; Income Tax Relief (Large Scale Projects and Pioneer Industries) Act; Tax Collection (Misc Provisions) Bill; Tax Penalties (Harmonisation) Bill; Regulation to implement the FATCA Agreement; A Bill to amend the Customs Act to make the process of customs clearance more efficient and streamlined.  

Jamaica has reported that since signing the EFF, the island has attracted in excess of a billion United States dollars in investments.  Finance and Planning Minister Dr. Peter Phillips said that passing IMF tests had also created an environment conducive to attracting investments and stabilizing the local economy.  “I can tell you if we were not passing these tests (which include compliant legislation noted above), life would be tremendously worse,” he said.  In September 2014, the IMF approved a disbursement of US$68.8 million for Jamaica after completing the fifth review of the island’s economic performance under the four year EFF programme.

Other islands benefiting from CFTC expertise include Belize and Grenada who have completed full law revision exercise with Antigua & Barbuda now 80% advanced towards completion.   Work on Law Reform for the Government of Dominica has commenced with preliminary support also provided to Government of Guyana.  Draft legislation (Marine Pollution Prevention Act 2014) has been submitted to the Governments of St Vincent and St Kitts for consideration.  Grenada benefitted from drafting support and has now enacted the following (Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF) compliant legislation – Terrorism (Amendment) Bill; Banking (Amendment) Bill; Offshore Banking (Amendment) Bill; and Proceeds of Crime (Amendment) Bill. 

Outputs

Credible legislative drafting facility established at CARICOM Secretariat and able to offer responsive service to member states. CARICOM has identified areas of prioritization to advance harmonisation in the region. Amended bills include: Animals Bill, 2007; Plant Protection Bill, 2009; Vetted Food Safety Bill, 2008; Treaty establishing the Council of Legal Education 2011; Amendment to the Agreement Establishing the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ); CARICOM Agreement on Double Taxation and Fiscal Evasions. Model Bills completed include:  Customs Bill and Customs Regulations; Registration of Tertiary Institutions Regulations, 2012 (for Guyana, but to be used as a Model); Accreditation Regulations, 2012 (for Guyana, but to be used as a Model); Consumer Protection 2012; Advance Passenger Information 2012; Development of Small and Medium Enterprises Act 2012. CFTC law revision expert has completed revision exercises for Belize and Grenada (with Antigua to be completed by mid 2015) so that the revised laws fully comply with the Treaty of Chaguaramas and CSME; Belize has moved to the Caribbean Court of Justice as its final court instead of Privy Council. MOU has been signed with the Regional Law revision Centre in Anguilla to allow access to a publishing option that can half the cost of publishing and allow countries full ownership and control of the documents.

MoU established with Athabasca University for provision of scholarships to serving drafters in the region to follow the post graduate diploma in legislative drafting - five scholarships issued to date (STK, GRE, GUY, BEL and St Lucia).    This project provided additional support to the Government in terms short term legislative support with regards to urgent pieces of legislation that were time-bound structural benchmarks under Jamaica's new Extended Fund Facility with the IMF.  Expected outputs - the production of key legislation and advice on legal and legislative issues in relation to the proposed legislation.  

Main activities

  • Meeting with the Government officials and members of the Incentives Working Group (IWG), comprised of Government officials and representatives from the private sector)  in order to understand the policy behind the legislation;  
  • Drafting legislation, meeting and corresponding with tax and customs officials and members of the IWG to review the various drafts, and adjusting the drafts in light of comments received;  Assisting at meetings of the legislation committee of the Cabinet and tabling in Parliament;
  • Attending sittings of Parliament ( House of Representatives and Senate) when the legislation was debated and assisting Ministers in providing answers to questions arising during debate;  Receiving drafting instructions for the legislation, clarifying those instructions and developing  a legislative plan for the legislation;  
  • Tabling of the various pieces of legislation by the dates required in terms of the Government's undertakings with the IMF;  passage of the legislation before the end of December, in time for it to come into force on 1 Jan 2014.  

Impact thus far include the drafting of several pieces of legislation including:

  • Fiscal Incentives (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act: Income Tax Relief Tax  (Large scale projects and Pioneer Industries) Act;
  • Three Resolutions to amend the Customs Tariff;
  • wo Orders to amend the Stamp Duty Act;
  • Tax Collection (White Off) Regulations;
  • Public Bodies Harmonisation Bill to harmonize the legislation of various public bodies (Quasi NGOs) with the over-arching Pubic Management and Accountability Act;
  • Draft Regulations regarding the acquisition of shares by public bodies;
  • Draft amendment to the Income Tax Act to introduce a minimum business tax;
  • Tax Collection (Miscellaneous Provision) Bill and Tax Penalties (Harmonisation) Bill; and Customs Act Amendments.  
  • All legislation has been enacted.