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Govt gets HCU bill through House

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The Government secured passage of four bills which each required a special majority vote in the House of Representatives before the lunch break yesterday. Those bills required a special majority for passage, which the Government got, although the Opposition PNM and ILP voted against and abstained respectively on the HCU legislation. In winding up debate on that measure, Finance and the Economy Minister Larry Howai said the legislation was needed to ensure depositors in the now disbanded Hindu Credit Union would be able to receive $75,000 in cash and those with shares over that figure will also be paid via bonds. 


He said the exercise was expected to cost the State $400 million and the Government was committed to meeting the payments to the former shareholders. The legislation was amended to ensure that the President and other officers of the HCU and its subsidiary companies did not benefit from the payment. Howai told legislators during yesterday’s sitting at Tower D, Waterfront Complex, Wrightson Road that the credit union’s collapse was caused by a “lapse in the regulatory system.” Earlier in the sitting, Community Development Minister Winston Peters issued a direct appeal to Port-of-Spain South MP Marlene McDonald for her assistance in the fight against crime in the Laventille area.


He was responding to a question on the order paper from McDonald, who wanted to know the status of a 2010 project to construct the Picton Dance Theatre. Peters said only about ten per cent of the project was complete, as work had to stop because of criminal activity in the area. He said his ministry was now holding inconclusive discussions with the Ministry of National Security for military and police officers to secure the area for work to resume. He said as was done in Beetham, the army/police team will have to establish a facility there “to stave off the untoward behaviour of some elements in those communities for us to continue the work that needs to be done on these centres.” Peters said it was “a crying shame that this has to be done in our country,” and if there had not been a crime problem, work on the project would have been in progress.


He said discussions to secure the military and police officials for the project  would begin in the coming weeks, and if the security measures were put in place and funds available, the project should recommence in fiscal 2015—which begins in October this year. In response to a supplemental question from Mc Donald, he said the discussions to secure the required security for the area “could take four years, because the elements there are so dangerous.” He then asked McDonald “to go to her constituency, speak to some of these elements and see if we can get them to curb their behaviour so their community can see progress.” McDonald shot back, “Who is in charge of running this country?” 


He responded that was a rhetorical question and that he would not answer it. Works and Infrastructure Minister Dr Surujrattan Rambachan said the Government was experiencing some challenges with the proposed construction of a walkover on the Churchill-Roosevelt Highway at Sea Lots as several utilities, including TSTT, WASA, NGC and Flow, have infrastructure which was difficult to remove. Nevertheless, he  said the Government was committed to constructing the overpasses at that site and at the Ferry Terminal, Wrightson Road and Movie Towne.


Bills Passed

The Miscellaneous Provisions (Administration of Justice) Bill.
The Land Tenants (Security of Tenure) (Amendment) Bill 
The Purchase of Certain Rights (HCU) Bill.
The Motor Vehicle and Road Traffic (Amendment) Bill


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