During four days of marathon meetings, the Legislative Assembly passed seven bills into law last week.
The legislators voted to pass three bills to pave the way for the privatisation of the Water Authority; a bill to create advisory district councils; amendments to the Health Practice Law; amendments to The Prisons Bill; and amendments to the Criminal Procedure Code.
The Criminal Procedure Code (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill, which passed unanimously, aims to speed up the pace of processing criminal cases through the court system by, for example, trying suspects for a number of serious offences at the same time. Currently, murder is prohibited from being charged in the same indictment as another offence.
The bill also eliminates long-form preliminary inquiries in Summary Court for Class A, or the more serious, offences which determine whether there is enough evidence to send a case to the Grand Court.
The Prisons (Amendment) Bill 2010 creates an offence of smuggling any item into or out of a prison. Anyone who brings, throws or conveys into a prison, or leaves items anywhere outside a prison with the intention of it getting into the hands of a prisoner, is liable under the new law to a maximum penalty of a $15,000 fine and/or imprisonment of up to three years.
The Water Production and Supply Bill 2010 and the Wastewater Collection and Treatment Bill 2010 create concessions, respectively, to enable franchise holders to produce and supply water to householders and businesses and to collect and treat sewage.
The third water-related bill is the Water Authority (Amendment) Bill 2010, which allows for the divestment of the Water Authority’s wastewater assets and operations. The government, which plans to lease the water company’s assets, has already issued a request for proposals to do so.
There were several hours of heated debate during the week on the Advisory District Councils Bill 2010, which will create advisory bodies at the district level throughout the Cayman Islands. Opposition members objected to the bill, which provides for Cabinet to appoint members of the district councils – a measure they claimed will result in rubber-stamping the ruling party’s policies.
Legislators also passed the Health Practice (Amendment) Bill, 2010, which prompted some fractious exchanges in the House. The legislation was among the measures needed before Indian cardiologist Dr. Devi Shetty would move ahead with creating his large-scale medical tourism centre in Cayman.
That bill will lead to the recognition of qualifications of medical professionals in India and other countries where qualifications are not currently accepted. It also creates a special category for medical staff who will work specifically at medical tourism facilities. Opposition members of the House questioned why staff coming to work at the Shetty hospital could not take exams to meet the existing requirements and objected to Cabinet being given the power to designate a facility as a medical tourism facility and any person as a medical tourism provider.
The Legislative Assembly adjourned sine dei and will meet again at a date to be determined.