August 27, 2004

Leacock calls for sifting of legislation

Opposition Senator St. Clair Leacock has issued a call for this country to be more cautious when enacting pieces of legislation from international laws so as to ensure that they are beneficial to Vincentians. {{more}}
Senator Leacock’s call came Tuesday as he expressed concern over the number of Bills coming before the House of Assembly which were fashioned particularly from international laws and which were aimed at protecting multinational corporations in the bigger countries.
“I think I can speak emphatically, that not here in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, not in Grenada, not in St. Lucia, not in Dominica, Barbados, Jamaica, Guyana, Suriname, can any of these governments set out to claim originality, authenticity, innovativeness or even strategic intent in the piece of legislatiion that is before us today, or before all the Parliaments – all, I repeat- in the Caribbean. Because, Mr. Speaker, if the truth be told, as island states, we are but reacting to a regulated world community. We are reacting to the requirements of the GATT, we are reacting to the requirements of WTO, we are reacting to the requirements of the Paris Convention, we are reacting to the requirements, even in an anticipatory way, of what will come as members of a single economic space- the CARICOM Single Market….We are but conforming to the requirements of the international trading bodies. That, nonetheless, Mr. Speaker doesn’t take away from the fact that we get on board”, Senator Leacock stated.
Leacock said that the US were the pioneers, as a government, of research and development activities and they carried much of the cost for their large companies. He said they had a particular kind of approach as to what kind of protection they could give to their business so they could have a head start and to what degree such protection created monopolies and how it squared with Trust and Anti-trust legislation.
He said today we are seeing areas where the US approach to the law differs from the UK and other European countries. He said this is of tremendous concern to many investors who are saying they want to be satisfied that there is universality in the law, regardless of what it is.
“I believe, the Government would want to claim today that there is a value in having our legislation formed and fashioned in a way that supports and advances an enabling environment that attracts foreign direct investments- big business, multi-national corporations, transnational corporations. Because that’s what trademarks, patents and intellectual properrty rights are about. They are not for the little man in Middle Street selling cloth, the person down the road selling chicken back and neck. These laws are not intended for them, not in the least. And that’s why I was so excited this morning when so many of us spoke on the piece of legislation that was before us today- the Activity Centers Bill. That is domestic, that concerns every man, woman and child in St. Vincent and the Grenadines with great equality. But these are pieces of legislation that advance international big, big, big business”, Leacok said.
The NDP Senator said that the pieces of legislation being taken before the House are connected (the Patent Bill, the Trademarks Bill and the Caricom Standards Bill) and are aimed at putting more money in the pockets of those who already have.
“It is the responsibility of this House, and each and every one of us, as we fulfil our international obligation and mandate, we sift through very carefully the legislation to make sure that we are not short-changing our people”.