Senators break ranks on immigration bill
ST JOHN’S — There just might be fallout as four government senators voted “nay” to the Citizenship by Investment Act, subsequently forcing the bill back to the Lower House.
Observer understand that government senators Malaka Parker, David Massiah, Colin Derrick and Anthony Stuart could potentially be chastised for breaking ranks.
Since the bill was shot down in the Senate Wednesday evening — for the second time in as many months — whispers have abounded about a disciplinary response by government.
What is at stake is the US $13 million government is anticipating reaping, this year alone, from the Citizenship by Investment programme.
However, the bill must first make its way back through the Lower House, and Senate before it can be gazetted and made the law of the land.
Government has encountered skepticism from some quarters of the country; push back from the opposition Antigua Labour Party — and now yet another roadblock from government senators.
During the debate, the most “fiery” pronouncement on the Parliament floor came from Senator Colin Derrick, who said the act should come through the house.
The senator took exception to section 1, subsection 2 of the act, which gives the prime minister powers to preside over the granting of citizenship under the programme.
“Whoever drafted this thought they were being smart. I take great exception to persons who seek to pass legislation that excludes the deliberation of this house,” he declared.
Leader of Government Business in Senate Dr Errol Cort, earlier in the day, said there were “safeguards” in place to disallow abuses by the prime minister. Currently, cabinet approval must first be attained before citizenship could be granted.
However, this was no consolation to Derrick who said the country was “jumping into the fire”.
Barbudan senator, Randolph Beazer — who voted in favour of the act — said Derrick was “a little bit hot under the collar” in his delivery, but he does not believe it warrants any repercussion from government.
Beazer also said he had no knowledge of a meeting slated between the party higher-ups and the four senators. (Antigua Observer)