ST JOHN’S, Antigua – Opposition senators are threatening to derail the Citizenship by Investment Bill (CIP) from being gazetted into law, even as the policy is virtually green lit after passing through the Senate.
The minority senators announced that a lawsuit was virtually assured, following a contentious sitting of the Senate when all four government senators – including Arthur Nibbs, Lenox Weston, Paul “Chet” Green and newly appointed Samantha Marshall – walked out of the committee stage, protesting President of the Senate Hazlyn Francis’ decision to allow the policy to make its way to Committee stage.
During her first address on the Parliament floor, Senator Marshall, who temporarily replaces Minority Leader in the Senate, Senator Gail Christian, threw the first punch, saying although she was “new to this House” she was in no way “new to the law” – referencing her career as an attorney.
The senator “cautioned” the president of the Senate to be wary before making a final decision that would allow the policy to make its way to the committee.
“If this House seeks to do that without first seeking independent legal advice, I dare say that I will be the first one heading to the courts for justice if I can not get justice here,” Marshall warned.
The senator, who was sworn in before the proceedings, said the Upper House should not entertain the motion to move forward with the Bill on the grounds the Bill was “dead” in Senate.
“Where there is no primary legislation that gives rise to the resolution, nothing can be done by this House. Nothing ought to be done by this House. So if I am to understand what is attempted here, is that we are to breathe life into something that has no life?” Marshall queried.
In an interview subsequent to her first appearance in the Upper House, Marshall said her day was “quite interesting.” However, she said she has caucused with other “senior attorneys” who have led her to the conclusion that an “illegality” had occurred in Senate yesterday.
However, Leader of Government Business in Senate, Dr Errol Cort, said an opposition lawsuit would not be successful. He noted that the “vast majority” of senators were in “full support of the clauses of the CIP Bill.
The CIP Bill passed through the Committee Stage of Senate with no amendments. The Bill was read a Third time and is now awaiting assent from Governor General Dame Louise Lake-Tack.
(More in today’s Daily OBSERVER)