January 27, 2022

The Editor Speaks: Beaten to the punch

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I have been beaten to the punch this morning when I found my subject had been already written and I am not ashamed to say better written and published in another media publication.

The media house is none other than Cayman Islands favourite newspaper “The Cayman Compass”.

Under the heading “How did lawmakers pass the wrong bill?” local lawyer Bilika Simamba has written a letter following the astounding disclosure that it appears lawmakers approved an incorrect, outdated version of the Non-Profit Organisations Bill, 2016, during a Legislative Assembly meeting last fall.

Having not read the article I only found out from a story that appeared on CITN/Cayman27 news and I quite frankly couldn’t believe my ears.

Attorney General Sam Bulgin said “while lawmakers had apparently voted through the correct version of the Non-Profit Organisations Bill on second reading in October, that version of the bill was inexplicably replaced by an older version of the legislation when lawmakers reviewed it during the committee stages.”

Bilika Simamba asks my question “how this could possibly happen?” and finds it is unclear how it did.

The lawyer states:

“Once the proposed legislation is published in the Gazette in the form of a Green Bill, it is the Green Bill that is used throughout the legislative process in the LA.

“The MLAs have in their hands the same bill from first reading all the way up to third reading. When changes are approved at committee stage, no new version of the bill is prepared for purposes of third reading. The suggested textual amendments (if there are any) are merely agreed and compiled by the office of the clerk of the LA..

“Thereafter, the clerk sends a copy of the bill (with the amendments passed at committee stage) to the government drafters so that they can finalize the bill for signature by the speaker and clerk, and ultimately send to the governor for assent.”

On how to correct the problem Bilika Simamba has a word of caution:

“Government drafters have to ensure that the procedure followed can pass legal and constitutional probity. It has to be ensured that the provisions of the Constitution, the LA Standing Orders or other relevant parliamentary practices are followed. If not, there could be a challenge to the validity of the legislation, even after it has been assented to and brought into force.

What is more, problem regarding the Non-Profit Organisations Bill is emblematic of a larger problem: The legislative processes in Cayman needs to be upgraded to minimize the incidence of such problems. This is an opportune time to undertake an inquiry into the processes and make recommendations for change, before something really disastrous comes to pass.”

I urge everyone to read the complete letter and the article it pertains to at: https://www.caymancompass.com/2017/03/21/how-did-lawmakers-pass-the-wrong-bill/ and https://www.caymancompass.com/2017/03/19/legislature-passed-wrong-bill-says-governor/

In this case I don’t mind being beaten to the punch. It was far superior to mine, if I had had a chance to even throw it.

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