St. John’s Antigua- Three weeks have passed since four government senators torpedoed government’s Citizenship by Investment Bill and 13 days have elapsed since the prime minister issued a somewhat vague response to the matter. Today, the nation is still in the dark as to the senators’ fates.
What is known is that Baldwin Spencer declared his intention to oust two of the offending senators – Colin Derrick and Anthony Stuart. However, they have yet to receive the notice of revocation of their instruments of appointment from the Office of the Governor General.
In an address on Friday, February 22, Spencer said Senators Malaka Parker and David Massiah subsequently apologised for voting “nay” to the CIP Bill and tendered their resignations in short order.
The apology of at least one, Parker, seemed to serve as a reprieve, as evidenced by her still being on the job as Parliamentary Secretary—a position that is subject to her retaining her senatorial position.
The only word from government, on the matter, came from Leader of Government Business Dr Errol Cort, who, when asked of the number of open positions on government’s side, said based on the PM’s address, “I am not aware that there are or will be five vacancies.”
“He (Spencer) spoke definitively in respect to two particular situations, and the other two he spoke in a way that kind of left it open. I think that he will certainly need to make some decisions and determine how he would go forward in that regard,” Dr Cort said on Voice of the People programme.
The contentious Citizenship by Investment Bill is making its way back to the House of Representatives, Monday. The Bill—that would return anew—would not be debated in the Lower House, and according to Attorney General Justin Simon, the policy would re-emerge “as is” on the Parliament floor.
However, this does not mean that there has not been debate between parliamentarians since the Bill was derailed.
In an interview, the AG said a hush-hush parliamentary caucus was held on Monday. Last week, Simon – who suggested such a meeting – said the gathering would allow Members of Parliament to have a “thorough” discussion in respect of the provisions of the Bill, “so we can have an idea of the particular concerns in respect of the provisions.”
Pressed for further details about the caucus, Simon declined to comment further.
After next week’s meeting of the Lower House, the proceedings would place the Bill back in the hands of senators in the Upper House, where the bone of contention occurred, allowing it to be struck down.
However, it is still unclear when the Senate debate would occur. The senate session might be the first time the nation learns of the new line-up of government senators.