Wed | Nov 29, 2023

Brown chides Gov’t for negligence

Published:Saturday | May 6, 2023 | 1:01 AMEdmond Campbell/Senior Parliamentary Reporter

OPPOSITION SENATOR Lambert Brown has chided the government for being lax in its administrative duties, which led to members of the Consumer Protection Tribunal serving for at least a year after the expiration of their tenure in contravention of the law.

Yesterday, Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce Senator Aubyn Hill piloted the Consumer Protection (Validation and Indemnity of Tribunal) Act 2023, which sought to validate the activities of the members of the tribunal for the period in which they were making decisions without the backing of the law.

In debating the bill, Brown argued that there is a system of government that should allow for checks and balances, and determine when the tenure of boards or the term of the Tribunal expires.

“Who has the task to ensure that reappointments or new appointments take place? You can’t continue to run government like this, that allows the laws to be breached. Good faith or no good faith, it amounts to bad governance,” Brown declared.

He indicated that owing to a sloppy administrative system, Parliament was now being asked to pass what he termed “good faith” legislation.

“We have permanent secretaries, we have people in the ministries whose duty it is to make sure the laws are followed,” he said.

Hill told his colleagues in the Senate that the bill validates and confirms the continuation of the Tribunal, as well as the decisions made by them over the period May 28, 2021, to May 8, 2022.

The bill, which was passed without amendments, also indemnifies members of the Tribunal from possible legal action on the basis that the decisions made by them in good faith after the expiration of their legal tenure were unauthorised, illegal or improper.

Hill said that the Tribunal carried out two specific duties after the expiration of its tenure.

“One was a matter heard before their period expired, but the decision came after the expiration date and there was only one other item that was heard by them and a decision made by them after the expiration of the period,” Hill explained.

Under the parent legislation (The Consumer Protection Act), the Tribunal was set up to resolve disputes stemming from complaints made by consumers to the Consumer Affairs Commission.