By LEANDRA ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
THE Davis administration intends to advance several pieces of legislation over the next six to nine months, including laws addressing finance reform, citizenship issues and medicinal marijuana regulations.
There will also be amendments to the Fiscal Responsibility Act and the Public Finance Management Act.
Attorney General Ryan Pinder yesterday said there were also plans to advance the proposed Nationality Bill, which he said will address the transfer of citizenship of Bahamian men and women.
Currently, children born outside of the country to a married Bahamian woman and a foreign man are not automatically granted Bahamian citizenship and thus must apply to receive it.
Bahamian men who have children with foreign women out of wedlock also cannot automatically pass on citizenship to their children.
Mr Pinder said the draft legislation that aims to address the country’s citizenship issues is currently under review and will be presented to Cabinet once all the necessary revisions have been completed.
A referendum will not be held on the issue of citizenship, Mr Pinder added.
Other legislative proposals that are expected to be presented to Parliament include bills addressing the regulation of medicinal marijuana and industrial hemp.
Mr Pinder said he has already received the first draft of the medical marijuana legislation and made recommendations, adding he hopes to have the proposed bill presented to Cabinet next month.
He foreshadowed what is to come when the House of Assembly reconvenes next month, during the Office of the Prime Minister’s press briefing.
“That bill has been sent to our international consultants for their review,” the senator added.
“They have assured me that I’ll get their comments back by the beginning of next week, which will be correlated and then we’ll do another turn of that bill and get it ready for public consultation.
“We’ve already been split speaking to Bahamian experts in the area to help coordinate our public consultation on that and our education on that and that’s very important to be able to provide that education basis.”
Mr Pinder added the government was looking to present a separate piece of legislation to deal with the Indian Hemp legislation “to support our agri-business initiatives that we are very aggressive on in our blueprint for change.”
As a part of its legislative agenda, the Attorney General also promised major health reform in the country, pointing to the recently tabled Nurses and Midwives Bill 2022 and Mental Health Bill, 2022.
He said debate on the bills will begin soon and added there were plans to bring forth legislation dealing with crime prevention and intelligence.
As it relates to anti-corruption legislation, the Attorney General noted that it is currently being reviewed. He said the government has even engaged the assistance of international organisations.
“The IDLO (International Development Law Organisation), you would see if you go on their website, our global experts on matters related to anti-corruption, we are looking at revamping the public disclosure law and we’re also looking at revamping or we’re bringing forward an Ombudsman Bill that will provide matters related to anti-corruption and we’re looking at also a regime for whistleblower protection in the context of this with respect to anti-corruption matters.
“Because, as you would know, part of the issue with respect to anti-corruption in a small country is that everybody knows each other and if somebody is going to report a matter of corruption, they’re fearful that they wouldn’t be found or people would know who they are.
“So, we need a whistleblower regime in place to protect that, so the IDLO is working very closely with us,” Senator Pinder also said.
“We’ve met with them now, probably three or four times. They’ve given us an action plan on how they’re going to approach that and in the context of that, they’re going to expand beyond the legislative framework, and they’re working with the DPP to build capacity and corruption matters and then working with the Freedom of Information unit to help build capacity on how a Freedom of Information unit would have functioned.”
Mr Pinder said the upcoming bills are a part of the government’s efforts “in maintaining an aggressive posture” with its legislative agenda when the House meets after summer recess.
“We’ve been rather aggressive in our first year,” he said, “and we look to maintain that aggressive posture with our legislative agenda going into our second year of our legislative calendar.”
The House of Assembly returns September 14.