MP Nipo: MPs must understand Bills

The Member of Parliament (MP) for Tanna Constituency, Jimmy Nipo, raised strong concern in Parliament yesterday, for the MPs to better understand the Bills when they are tabled in Parliament for debate and to be passed.

He said some MPs don’t have backgrounds of the Bills and this is why he felt State Ministers introducing Bills must ensure there are always sufficient background information on the subject, in order that the MPs can contribute constructively in discussions and debate on the Bills.

He went on to say that some MPs don’t understand the Bills and their contents hence don’t know what to talk about, he remarked during his second day as new MP in parliament contributing positively in parliamentary discussions on bills.

MP Nipo, made the remarks during discussions on the Bill for the Mutual Funds (Amendment) Act No. of 2018, tabled by the Minister of Finance, Gaetan Pikioune.

The Leader of the Opposition, MP Ishmael Kalsakau, welcomed the Bill and congratulated the Minister of Finance for introducing the amendment to the Act. He said the Opposition would support the Bill, which at the end of discussions, the Bill was passed unanimously by MPs from both sides of the House.

When introducing the Bill, Finance Minister, Gaetan Pikioune, said a Mutual Fund can be created by both citizens and non-citizens and the risks of money laundering and terrorist financing and financial loss arising from fraudulent activities is high.

He said the current law basically establishes mutual funds as a legal entity but lacks provision to empower the Vanuatu Financial Services Commission (VFSC) to obtain information on controller and associates of the general partner and lacks he provisions to allow the VFSC to obtain information on investors. It also lacks provisions requiring due diligence checks to be made on controller and associates of the general partner. It also lacks provisions to criminalizing failure to disclose beneficial interest. Finally, the Act lacks provisions that provide for sanctions other than criminal prosecutions, namely penalty notices. In light of the deficiencies that the Minister of Finance outlined, he said it is impossible to enforce the law and deal with issues relating to financial loss by investors or members of the Mutual Funds.

The propose amendment which was subsequently passed by parliament after debate, would have the effect of addressing all of the deficiencies mentioned throughout the bill, which will improve and facilitate the Vanuatu Financial Services Commission (VFSC) ongoing robust monitoring and supervision of Mutual Funds.

In addition, the length of the judicial process that delays the time taken to remedy suspected breaches of provisions under the Act has been affecting the proper and efficient and administration of the Act. The introduction of penalty notices is an effort to address the cost and also address breaches of the Act in the timely manner.

The Bill for the Mutual Funds (Amendment) Act No. of 2018, was passed unanimously by Members of both sides of the House.

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