Two bills were quickly added to the agenda for this week’s House of Assembly sitting on Tuesday: amendments to the “economic substance” law that took effect on New Year’s Day and the Beneficial Ownership Secure Search System Act 2017.
Both were quickly passed.
Premier Dr. Orlando Smith explained that when the economic substance act was being rushed through the House last month in order to avoid a European Union blacklist, there was always an acknowledgment that there would likely be a need for further changes.
As for the current economic substance amendment act, one of the modifications now being requested is that amendments to the BOSSS Act do not come into effect until June 20, 2019 rather than Jan. 1, 2019.
“I think we all understand, Madam Speaker, how significant this bill is before us to continuing to participate in the financial services industry,” Dr. Smith said in summary.
Before passing both acts through committee without amendments, legislators briefly debated the economic substance amendment.
Opposition member Julian Fraser (R-D3) commented that government’s priority should be to “ensure that nothing stands in the way of the business of financial services in the territory, where companies can continue to feel welcome in doing business here.”
Mr. Fraser added that he still has concerns that conditions being placed on locally owned businesses are becoming “more onerous.”
Deputy Premier Dr. Kedrick Pickering and other government legislators stood in support of the amendment.
“It’s a fascinating demonstration that the only thing constant in life is change,” Dr. Pickering said, adding, “It was only about a month ago that we were here debating the substantive piece of legislation and we’re back less than a couple of weeks later to make an amendment to try and keep up with the changing times. As my colleagues said, the goalpost keeps shifting, and we can’t lie down and play dead.”