St. Kitts and Nevis seeks Parliamentary approval to retain legislative authority under OECS Economic Union Treaty

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hon. Sam Condor (Photo by Erasmus Williams)

BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS, DECEMBER 4TH 2011 (CUOPM) – The Government of St. Kitts and Nevis goes to Parliament on Tuesday seeking the approval of lawmakers for the twin-island Federation to opt out of Article 5.3 of the Revised Treaty which seeks to give direct effect to legislation passed by the OECS Assembly as a method of improving the monitoring, enforcement and harmonized implementation of decisions made by the Authority.

Article 5 of the Revised Treaty provides for a method by which member States could carry out the Treaty obligations under Article 14. The method proposed in Article 5.3 is for full Member States to delegate the power to make laws, related to the areas specified under Article 14, to the OECS. These OECS laws would have a direct effect in a Member State which could delegate that law making authority to the OECS.

“However, under clause 3 of the Bill it is proposed that Article 5.3 should not, at this point in time, be given the force of law in Saint Christopher and Nevis. This proposal is consistent with the recommendation of the Legal Affairs Committee of the OECS that the mechanism for national implementation of Acts of the Organisation should accord with the legislative procedures set out in the respective Constitutions of Member States. In other words, the mechanism envisaged by Article 5.3 does not appear to be in keeping with the spirit of our Constitution,” states explanatory notes to lawmakers which accompany the 57-page OECS (Revised Treaty of Basseterre Establishing the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States Economic Union) Bill 2011.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Hon. Sam Condor will introduce the legislation, which is to be piloted through all three stages at Tuesday’s National Assembly.

“Although our Constitution is silent on the issue of delegation of legislative power by Parliament, that is, neither allowing nor prohibiting the practice, the accepted practice which has developed in this area over the years is that Parliament must not abdicate its power to legislate and must retain some control over the legislative process. Additionally, the practice has been to delegate the power to enact subsidiary legislation but not primary legislation,” it said.
It added that at best, the current method proposed for the enactment of OECS legislation under Article 5.3 is questionable.

“In other words, it would be prudent to proceed with caution because Parliament is not in the habit of delegating the enactment of Acts and this type of delegation must pass the hurdle of constitutional provisions such as that of section 42 of our Constitution,” it said.

According to section 42, “The power of Parliament to make laws shall be exercised by bills passed by the National Assembly and assented to by the Governor General …When the Governor General assents to a bill that has been submitted to him in accordance with the provisions of [the] Constitution the bill shall become law and the Governor General shall thereupon cause it to be published in the Gazette as law … No law made by Parliament shall come into operation until it has been published in the Gazette …”.

“Apart from the prescribed procedures under section 42 there is no other provision under our Constitution for the mode of exercise of the legislative power. In that regard, the Bill proposes to implement the provisions of the Revised Treaty with the exception of Article 5.3 and our Parliament will retain the responsibility for ensuring all OECS legislation made in accordance with Article 14 will be passed into law in the Federation in a timely and efficient manner,” said the Explanatory notes to lawmakers.

Full members of the OECS are Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

Anguilla and the British Virgin Islands are Associate Members.

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