Saturday 24 August, 2019

Young: Majority of amendments to Bill came from Gov't

File photo.

File photo.

Government has credited itself for the bulk of the amendments made to the Civil Asset Recovery and Management Unexplained Wealth Bill 2019 being passed in the Lower House on Monday evening.

In a statement on behalf of the Government National Security Minister Stuart Young said work on improving the Bill was done over the weekend to ensure the rights of citizens were balanced and organised crime was tackled.

The release of the statement from Government follows a statement issued by Opposition leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar in which she said she “battled” the Government “highlighting the flaws” in the Bill, “virtually rewriting” it to ensure that appropriate safeguards were inserted to secure the property of all citizens was not at risk of being taken by the State.

“The Government was compelled to accept many of the amendments proposed by the Opposition Leader,” she said.

But Young said the majority of amendments to the Bill, especially the “substantial” ones that were agreed to, were the product of the Government’s work over the weekend.

The Government expressed its satisfaction for the Bill being passed after receiving the unanimous support of Government and Opposition Members of Parliament.

“We are satisfied that citizens can be comforted that this Bill is an important piece of legislation in the Government’s fight against crime. We believe it is pivotal in pursuing those who profit from the proceeds of crime and bringing them to justice,” Young stated.

The Bill allows specific agencies to have greater teeth in criminal investigations into identified serious crimes such as racketeering, counterfeiting, trafficking in stolen goods, murder, tax crimes, extortion, insider trading and market manipulation.

Meanwhile, the Bill has received the stamp of approval from the Trinidad and Tobago Chamber of Industry and Commerce.

In a statement, the T&T Chamber expressed its support for the intent and purpose of the unanimously passed Bill.

Taking note of the heated exchanges ahead of the debate on the Bill, the Chamber commended the Government and the Opposition for their mature conduct towards ensuring the Bill’s passage.  

The Chamber said it is yet to review the details of the amendments but trusts they will ensure that the constitutional rights of law abiding citizens are not indiscriminately impacted on the basis of mere suspicion.

Acknowledging that the Bill still has to be debated in the Senate, the T&T Chamber said it will continue to monitor developments.

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