Combating cyber-crime high on government’s agenda
January 15, 2013
Combating cyber-crime high on government’s agenda

The government’s legislative agenda this year will focus heavily on countering cyber-crime, Governor General Sir Frederick Ballantyne said in the Throne Speech yesterday.{{more}}

He said cyber-crime affects every institution — public or private — and appropriate legislation will be tabled to address issues pertaining to the rise of criminal activity on the Internet.

He said the state will continue to enact comprehensive laws and legislation to combat crime and terrorism and defend the rights of law-abiding individuals.

And, to ensure supporting infrastructure is in place for efficient disposal of criminal cases, a comprehensive review of criminal legislation will be undertaken.

New Police pension and road trafficking bills will be brought to Parliament.

And several bills will be tabled to facilitate the implementation of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States’ (OECS) E-Government Regional Integration programmes (EGRIP).

In this vein, the Data Protection, Electronic Crimes, Electronic Evidence, Electronic Funds Transfer, Electronic Transaction, and Electronic Filing bills will be introduced.

Further, a draft bill for the integration of the magistracy will be reviewed, along with a review of legislation to support speedier criminal trial in the magistracy and High Court and to ensure a veritable permanent criminal division of the High Court.

The government will also in 2013 continue the expansion of its programmatic platform to strengthen the family, Sir Frederick said.

He said the Ministry of National Mobilisation will be directed to work with other ministries to formulate a comprehensive national action plan on violence against women.

A modern legal profession bill to properly regulate, monitor and foster development of the legal profession will be tabled.

A consumer protection bill will be proposed to establish a consumer affairs commissions with powers to investigate the conduct of supply of goods and services, which conduct is reported to have affected or be affecting the rights of consumers.

The state will also create offences for deceptive conduct, false representation, and unfair and unsafe practices.

Cooperative societies legislation will make new provisions regarding the registration, supervision, and governance, operation management of cooperative societies, including credit unions.

Bills to finalise the procurement and contract administration procedures of the government will also be tabled.

This year will also see a review of existing legislations to make tourism and industry sectors more competitive, the Governor General announced.

Industries — namely agriculture, forestry, fisheries, tourism, and culture — the ceremonial head of state said, remain vital to the Vincentian economy.

And, in light of the global economic trend, the Unity Labour Party government will focus on five areas to transform agricultural and fisheries sectors.

These are:

1. Improved production of bananas, vegetables and root and tree crops;

2. Creation of an enabling environment for marketing under the government’s agri-marketing strategy;

3. Development and refurbishment of feeder roads;

4. Provision of support services to continue control and management of diseases and pests, preadial larceny, credit system for farmers and opening of agricultural institute; and,

5. Building public/private sector partnerships to ensure that stakeholders are involved in vital industries.

The provision of fish is expected to benefit from the addition of fish aggregating devices, even as the Dr Ralph Gonsalves government makes final preparations for inspection regarding European standards, renewed attention on aquaculture and fleet expansion.

The government will continue with its “independent and bi-partisan foreign policy” that “advances our nation’s interests,” Sir Frederick said.

He said that despite its small size, St Vincent and the Grenadines plays a significant role in international meetings where opportunities to pursue initiatives to establish diplomatic relations with countries are available.

The country has recently established ties with several nations, including the Solomon Islands, Qatar, and Moldova.

This year, the government will enter into an agreement with the International Air Transport Association for management and collection of airport service charge from February.

The fire service will also be upgraded to improve the nation’s emergency response system.

Further steps will be taken to enhance the Vincentian passport and the validity will be 10 years for adults and five years for children.

Currently, a passport is valid for five years.

Sir Frederick said the government will continue to provide a social safely net for the poor and will revamp child protection laws and systems and emphasize protection of the most vulnerable.

The low-income housing and land title programmes will continue, as well as initiatives for institutional strengthening and good governance.

In this vein, several systems will be instituted to prevent waste, reduce unprofessionalism and to re-engineer the public service to become a modern, competitive, productive sector, Sir Frederick said.

“Let our discipline, determination and responsible choices steer us on the trajectory to work harder and smarter to support families, the disadvantaged and our noble institutions,” Sir Frederick told legislators and media audiences ahead of the Budget Speech.

“Our contribution in all spheres will help to lay the foundation for long-term growth in a nation where excellence and opportunity co-exist. Mr Speaker, regardless of age or association, let us all strive to create a better future for our country,” he said. ([email protected])