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House delays road traffic Bill

...agree to cooperation on Bauxite Levy

BY BALFORD HENRY
Senior staff reporter
balfordh@jamaicaobserver.com

Thursday, November 01, 2018

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THE House of Representatives Tuesday postponed further debate on the delayed Road Traffic Act (RTA) at the request of Opposition MPs.

Minister of Transport and Mining Robert Montague sought to add five more amendments which came out of recent discussions at the level of the National Road Safety Council (NRSC), which is chaired by Prime Minister Andrew Holness.

Included is a proposal which would remove the controversial mandatory need for drivers to have their driver's licence in their possession at all times and to allow for other supplementary documents to be used instead.

In addition, there were some 130 amendments left over from the Senate's deliberations on the Bill in May this year which were still not approved.

However, after opening the debate on the new amendments, Montague accepted a request from Leader of Opposition Business Phillip Paulwell and opposition spokesman on Finance Mark Golding that the members should be given at least a week to acquaint themselves with the new proposals.

Also in the House of Representatives yesterday, the Opposition responded favourably to a request from Minister of Finance and the Public Service Dr Nigel Clarke for both sides to partner to ensure that commensurate with improvements in the bauxite/alumina industry, the bauxite levy be restored to more favourable arrangements.

This followed a lengthy engagement involving Clarke and Paulwell over the October 2016 agreement between the Government and the management of Noranda Bauxite to remove the levy, which has been severely criticised by the Opposition.

Dr Clarke noted that the levy had collapsed with the fall in price of aluminium on the world market, which began in 2007, and had led to several closures of plants and interim decisions affecting the levy which eventually influenced the 2016 agreement.

“It is important to recognise that what Jamaica faced was a collapse in the export of bauxite and alumina, and a collapse in the levy which went along with it,” Dr Clarke said.

“What we have been doing is recovering our position from a very weak start, and this agreement that was negotiated in October 2016 represented a catalystic effort to improve our earnings,” he added.

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