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Tuesday 16 July 2019
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Unexplained wealth bill back in the Lower House

File photo: Marshelle Haseley
File photo: Marshelle Haseley

THE House of Representatives will sit right after the long Easter weekend. The House sits on Tuesday at Tower D of the Port of Spain International Waterfront Centre from 10.30 am to debate motions to approve Senate amendments to the Civil Asset Recovery and Management and Unexplained Wealth Bill 2019 and the Non-Profit Organisations (NPO) Bill 2019. At a People’s National Movement public meeting in Barataria last Tuesday, the Prime Minister disclosed that the House would sit right after Easter to approve Senate amendments to the Unexplained Wealth Bill.

After initially refusing to support the bill, the Opposition voted with the Government to pass the bill with amendments in the House on April 8 by a margin of 34 votes to zero.

The bill was passed with further amendments in the Senate on April 16. The bill was passed with 29 senators (government, opposition and independent) voting for it.

The objective of the bill is the recovery of criminal property through the use of the remedies of restriction in dealings with civil assets restriction and forfeiture of criminal property and the management of criminal property.

At a post Cabinet news conference at the Diplomatic Centre in St Ann’s on April 4, National Security Minister Stuart Young said, “Anyone who says they don’t want to have to explain where their wealth has come from, immediately, in my humble opinion and my view, has something to hide.” Young was not surprised by Opposition attempts to portray the bill as draconian.

The NPO Bill 2019 was passed without amendments in the House on March 29 with 15 Government MPs voting for it and 11 Opposition MPs voting against it. The bill was passed with amendments in the Senate on April 11, with 24 senators (government and independent) voting for it.

The Opposition’s six senators voted against it. The purpose of this bill is to establish a register for NPOs in TT and maintain that register. Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi will move the motions to approve the amendments to each of these bills. On April 9, Al-Rawi said there are no laws in TT to regulate NPOs He also said if TT does not pass the NPO Bill, it would be blacklisted.

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