Bahamas: Parliament debates protected forests bill

The government has been criticized by an opposition member of Parliament after it opposed measures in its legislation regarding one bill, and parked another in a parliamentary committee pending further consideration.

"Many will question whether the legislation is in fact being properly considered before it's tabled here in this place, Mr. Speaker," said St. Thomas More MP Frank Smith yesterday in the House of Assembly.

In the first sitting of the House for the new parliamentary session, the government tabled four pieces of legislation including the Forestry Bill and the Protected Areas Fund Bill.

In an interview with The Nassau Guardian earlier this month Environment Minister Dr. Earl Deveaux confirmed that the government does not support the major tax increases, including a new $5 departure tax and a one percent tax on the development of property valued at more that $250,000, in the Protected Areas Fund Bill.

The Protected Areas Fund Bill establishes the entity that will regulate protected areas managed by the government, the Bahamas National Trust and other areas the Fund considers protected areas.

Deveaux added that the draft was tabled in the form it was prepared in by a consultant together with his notes so that the members of the public and the opposition would have a full brief on what was being considered.

Yesterday, the House debated the Forestry Bill.

Opposition MP Fred Mitchell questioned whether a portion of the bill was unconstitutional. He called on the government to review the bill.

The bill sets out the forest reserves in the country, also designating the areas to be considered protected and conservation forests.

full story