KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent, March 21, IWN — The parliamentary opposition says it is still discussing the constitutionality of an amendment to a law Parliament passed last week.
The Government’s provision to give departure tax monies directly to the International Airport Development Company (IADC) circumvents the Constitution, the New Democratic Party (NDP) lawmakers argued in Parliament on March 11.
“… we are not consistent with Section 68 of the Constitution. … we are not sitting easily with Section 69 of the Constitution. That being the case, Mr. Speaker, under section 101 of our Constitution, any law that is not consistent with our Constitution is void. And therefore, even if we pass this, we have a problem. It doesn’t sit easily with section 101, Section 69 and Section 68,” Sen. Linton Lewis, who has a doctorate in law, told Parliament before the Bill was passed without amendment.
But Prime Minister Dr. Raloh Gonsalves, who is also a lawyer, told Parliament it is open to those who oppose the bill to challenge its constitutionality in court.
“I am not going to take the advice on the law from those who have an agenda,” Gonsalves said.
But Lewis, speaking on his weekly radio programme today — Thursday, said he is not sure if the Bill has been assented to by the Governor General as yet.
“We are hoping that with some presentation made, representation made, not only by the Bar [Association] and … and the New Democratic Party and like-minded people that the government will rethink it position, perhaps,” Lewis said.
Lewis is president of the Bar Association and chair of the NDP.
“The Bar Association ought to engage in these sorts of discussion — not only social but legal discussions — in St. Vincent and the Grenadines pertaining to these sorts of legislations.
“The fact is that the Bar Association, as an association, didn’t get a copy of that Bill we debated to the House of Parliament.
“… I am speaking about it as this time as somebody who is an advocate of the Bar Association,” Lewis said.
Asked if there was not a conflict as a result of his dual offices, Lewis said:
“No, there can’t be any conflict, because, in any event, it is the same thing that is being discussed.”