Governor John Rankin assented to 13 bills last month, bringing into effect legislation that deals with issues ranging from gun violations to birth and death certificates.

The Explosives (Amendment) Act, 2021 widens the definition of “explosives” to allow more aggressive prosecution of gun-related crimes.

Transportation, Works and Utilities Minister Kye Rymer introduced the bill on March 4 and brought it for a second reading on May 13, explaining that the goal was to ensure people convicted of gun offences “are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law” rather than benefiting from a linguistic technicality of what counts as ammunition or part of a firearm.

The bill received bipartisan support as legislators called for a more “robust” response to gun crimes in the territory.

Probates

The Probates (Resealing) Act, 2021, which passed the HOA on May 6, outlines the process for resealing documents regarding a deceased person’s estate.

Premier Andrew Fahie said at the time, “It is anticipated that these reforms will increase the attractiveness of British Virgin Islands companies, by making it simpler to transfer the shares of these companies to a shareholder’s heirs following his or her death.”

The governor assented to the act on June 22.

Replacing a law that is more than 56 years old, the Registration of Births and Deaths Act, 2021 modernises the process for obtaining birth and death records.

The act paves the way for people to get notifications and apply for records digitally, and it makes special provisions for the registration of stillbirths. It passed the House on May 6.

Appropriations

The Supplementary Appropriation (2016) Act, 2021 shows how government shuffled funds for various projects in 2016, using budget surpluses from some initiatives for other underfunded efforts.

The House has been working to catch up on overdue appropriations acts, which are meant to come within six months of the end of the year they address in keeping with the Constitution.

The extra capital expenditures in 2016 came to $3,067,644, which was covered by savings; the recurrent expenditures came to $28,827,860.22, with only $15,846,277.71 covered by savings.

When the House debated and passed the bill on May 11, Mr. Fahie said, “We have to look over these [appropriations acts] because if there is any error at all, it throws off the accounts straight up into 2021. That’s the magnitude of what we’re doing here.”

Money services

Finally, the Financing and Money Services (Amendment) Act, 2021 makes a minor change to the 2020 law that imposed a seven percent tax on funds sent outside the territory via money services companies, with a portion of that levy benefiting social programmes in the territory.

The amendment allows the Financial Services Commission to retain $10,000 each quarter from the levy to cover administrative fees.

Mr. Rankin also assented to several other bills concerning financial services.


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