During a House of Assembly sitting scheduled for today, lawmakers plan to fast-track and debate the Economic Substance (Companies and Limited Partnerships) Act, 2018.

On Dec. 4 Premier Dr. Orlando Smith announced Cabinet’s approval of the draft law, which is designed to keep the Virgin Islands off a European Union blacklist set to take effect early next year.

“It is planned that the House of Assembly will be asked to consider the new legislation at the sitting [today], with the intention that the legislation will be in force by Dec. 31, the deadline set by the European Union,” Dr. Smith promised last week, adding that the government has been in discussions with the EU on the effort for the past 18 months.

But passing the legislation by the Dec. 31 deadline is contingent on unusually fast work by a fractured HOA, where recent defections mean the government has a slim majority of seven to five.

In an effort to get it done, Dr. Smith will move a motion today that would expedite the bill by allowing it to receive a first, second and third reading in one day.

Other laws

Also during today’s sitting, the premier is scheduled to introduce the Police (Amendment) Act, 2018 and the Criminal Code (Amendment) Act, 2018, as well as seven supplementary appropriation acts covering government spending from 2007-2013.

Meanwhile, the opposition is scheduled to ask government ministers several questions.

Opposition Leader Andrew Fahie (R-D1), for example, is to ask about topics including consultants hired from 2012 to 2018, and the amount that has been drawn down from the $65 million Caribbean Development Bank loan approved in the HOA last December.

Opposition Member Julian Fraser (R-D3) is slated to ask Deputy Premier Dr. Kedrick Pickering about the number of work permits issued to skilled workers since Hurricane Irma and how many family members accompanied them, among other questions.