There was a rare spirit of peaceful coexistence and camaraderie between the Government and the Opposition at the Twenty-Ninth Meeting of the First Session of the Twelfth Anguilla House on Tuesday, September 28, 2021. That was when the island’s Parliament was prorogued by a Proclamation for 39 days from October 1 to November 8.
The Proclamation, by Command of Her Excellency Governor Dileeni Daniel-Selvaratnam, on behalf of Her Majesty the Queen, and on the advice of Premier Dr. Ellis Lorenzo Webster, was read by the Clerk of the House, Mr. Lennox Proctor. The Proclamation (published elsewhere in this edition of The Anguillian newspaper), was delivered just before the adjournment of the House at the request of Premier Webster, Leader of Government Business.
Premier Dr. Webster thanked the Governor for making the Proclamation; the Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition, his Cabinet, and others, for their cooperation and assistance. He was of the view that his Government had accomplished a lot during the now ended First Session of the House in terms of legislation and policies which were instituted – and which would be put into place during the new Second Session of the House.
This was the first time, in recent years, that a decision was taken to prorogue the House of Assembly. When this was done, in earlier years, the new session of the House usually commenced with what was described as a Throne Speech by the Governor. Whether this will be the case again, when the House resumes its sittings in November, is left to be seen.
The agenda for the last meeting of the House began with a series of questions about road development work and funding – by the Leader of the Opposition, Mrs. Cora Richardson Hodge – to the Minister of Infrastructure, Mr. Haydn Hughes. The searching questions were all duly replied to by Mr. Hughes in a most informative and respectable manner, resulting in much cordiality across the aisle, compared with other times of discord and lack of cooperation. (The questions and answers are published elsewhere in this edition of The Anguillian newspaper.)
Other matters before this First Session of the House were a motion for a policy-based loan of 7.5 million US dollars from the Caribbean Development Bank for resilience building in Anguilla related to COVID-19. It was moved by Premier and Minister of Finance and Health, Dr. Lorenzo Webster, and was approved by the House with little or no debate. Another matter dealt with was a Bill entitled Business Licence Moratorium (Amendment) (No. 2) Act, 2021. It was piloted through the House by the Minister of Economic Development, Mr. Kyle Hodge, given its first, second and third readings and passed.
In giving the reasons for the amending legislation, Mr. Hodge said: “Mr. Speaker, I wish to give an explanation as to why this is necessary at this moment. Currently, there is a moratorium on the issuing of business licences in Anguilla. The moratorium was established by legislation to allow the Ministry of Economic Development and Commerce the opportunity to put in place a new regime for the licensing of businesses, given the shortcomings of the legal framework for the current licensing regime in progress.
“While the new Licensing of Businesses Act, 2021, had its first reading in early September, the Ministry of Finance has now advised that the enactment of the Bill, at this time, may be untimely due to the upcoming meeting of the Council of European Union for the following reasons: The EU member states agreed in 2019 to explore the extent to which entities, with the legal form of partnerships, are relevant for and in support of the domestic economic substance requirements. Concerning Anguilla, it was concluded by the member states that our domestic substance legislation does not cover all the appropriate categories of partnerships. In particular, it was their concern and determination that Anguilla should amend its existing substance legislation and framework to include general partnerships in the scope of economic substance requirements by 30th June 2021.
“In June 2021 we amended the Trades, Businesses, Occupations and Professions Licensing Act to address member states’ concerns that general partnerships should be within the scope of economic substance requirements. This legislation was subsequently reviewed and approved by the EU Code of Conduct Group in early September. The COCG, in light of these amendments, as well as Anguilla’s recent approval by the OECD for supplementary review of its exchange for information request practice, will be making a recommendation to the EU Finance Ministers that Anguilla be delisted from Annex 1 (the black list) on the 7th of October. As the new Licences Bill proposes to repeal the Trades, Businesses, Occupations and Professions Licensing Act, including the June amendment, to repeal this legislation at this time, would not afford the COCG sufficient time to review the new provisions within the legislation and may compromise Anguilla’s potential delisting.”
Minister Kyle Hodge added: “Mr. Speaker, it is therefore proposed that the new Licensing of Businesses Bill, 2021, be delayed. As a consequence, it is proposed that the Businesses Moratorium (Amendment) Act, which is due to expire on 30th September, 2021, just two days away, be further extended to the 31st of December 2021.”