Crime victim payments to be accelerated
Changes to speed up compensation payments to people who suffer criminal injuries and to boost cruise ship revenue have been approved in the House of Assembly.
The amendments to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Act and the Miscellaneous Taxes Act were supported on both sides of the House.
Kim Wilson, the Minister of Health, who led the debate on behalf of the Ministry of Legal Affairs, said the Criminal Injuries (Compensation) Amendment Act 2020 would help tackle delays.
She said that under the amendments, the chair of the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board would be a barrister with at least ten years of experience, instead of a Supreme Court judge.
Ms Wilson said: “There has been historic challenges of administration with the CICB, including prolonged delays in handling applications and compensation awards.
“Corresponding complaints have been widely publicised by local media outlets and beyond.
“A review of the CICB's operation by the Ministry of Legal Affairs revealed that the task of chairing the CIBC is unduly burdensome on the judiciary”.
Ms Wilson said barristers would have more time to focus on the role and the move would ease the pressure on an already-stretched judiciary.
She said the legislation also changed who appoints the members of the board from the Governor, on the advice of the Minister of Legal Affairs, to the minister.
Ms Wilson thanked Puisne Judge Nicole Stoneham for her hard work as chairwoman of the board and added that the backlog of applications had been tackled. She added: “They have caught up, and they are working on current applications.
“There are still pending applications, but those are current and those are being worked on as we speak.”
Curtis Dickinson, the Minister of Finance, put forward amendments to tax legislation to increase revenue from cruise ships in Dockyard.
The amendments replace the Large Ship Infrastructure Tax with the Transport Infrastructure Tax, which will charge $25 per cruise ship passenger over the age of two when the ships visit Dockyard between April 1 and October 31.
The LSI tax was only applied to larger cruise ships, but the TI tax will apply to all cruise ships.
Mr Dickinson said the LSI tax raised $5.1 million last year, but its replacement was expected to more than double the take to $11.1 million in the new financial year.
However, he warned that the estimate did not take into account the effect the coronavirus pandemic might have on the cruise industry.
Zane DeSilva, the Minister of Tourism and Transport, said cruise lines had not raised concerns about the tax change.