Aragonite bill goes to committee


Tribune Senior Reporter


PARLIAMENTARIANS voted yesterday to move a bill that would repeal the Ocean Industries Incorporated (Aragonite Mining Encouragement) Act to a Select Committee on Natural Resources, effectively ensuring that the Bill will not be debated in the House of Assembly during a second reading.

The action came a week after House Speaker Halson Moultrie took the rare decision to side against members of the governing party and allow Pineridge MP Fredrick McAlpine to table the private Bill. That was the first time this session that a private Bill was allowed to have a first reading.

Before Bamboo Town MP Renward Wells, the leader of government business in the House, moved to send the Bill to a Select Committee in Parliament yesterday, Speaker Moultrie said he realised the document Mr McAlpine tabled is a “money Bill” after his decision last week, noting that the constitution rests the power to bring Bills that affect the Consolidated Fund in the hands of Cabinet.

Article 59(3) of the constitution says: “Except on the recommendation of the Cabinet signified by a minister, the House of Assembly shall not (a) proceed upon any Bill (including any amendment to a Bill) which, in the opinion of the person presiding, makes provision for imposing or increasing any tax, for imposing any charge on the Consolidated Fund or any other public fund or altering any such charge otherwise than by reducing it or for compounding or remitting any debt due to The Bahamas...”

Speaker Moultrie said: “All members of the Parliament are eligible and privileged to bring a Bill to this Parliament. Notwithstanding having said that, certain information was brought to this presiding officer’s attention since (the last) sitting. Upon review of the (Bill) I discovered in that (Bill), provisions that touch taxes, duties levied, fees and also in that (Bill) on section three it deals with royalties due to the government based on the mining of aragonite and other materials. As a consequence, the Bill before this House is a money Bill because it seeks to repeal an act that touches the Consolidated Fund. The constitution which I relied on totally on Wednesday, I must rely on today.”

The Bill for an Act to repeal the Ocean Industries Incorporated (Aragonite Mining Encouragement) 1971, was drafted by Bahamian Evolution, a group that demonstrated in Rawson Square last week. Those backing the bill argue the country has not benefited enough from its natural resources.


proudloudandfnm 2 years, 5 months ago

Lol. The sand bill. We gotta protect our sand... Lol...


DWW 2 years, 5 months ago

I don't understand what this Bahamian evolution group is trying to do? It seems like they ware trying to legislate a change of ownership in the aragonite industry from one person to another under the guise of National finances. Do they want to stop aragonite harvesting completely or just have a different crony get the license? i.e. let Paul have the license, tom has had it too long?


DWW 2 years, 5 months ago

if it was so profitable why not have multiple licenses out there? Can i have a license to export sand please?


truetruebahamian 2 years, 5 months ago

According to the Jones Act of 1937 sand and aragonite and other materials can only be brought into the US on a US registered vessel. Aso, these people have absolutely no idea what goes inro the production of these materials, - they rely upon half baked research and have these pie in the sky dreams of sugar plums none of which is based on reality.


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