Mottley: Farmers, vendors must not be criminalised

Opposition Leader, Mia Mottley, has taken issue with aspects of the Protection of Agricultural Products and Livestock Bill, 2017, which was debated in the House of Assembly yesterday, arguing that Government is seeking to pass bad legislation in its rush to add to its scorecard.

According to Mottley, some farmers and vendors may end up with criminal convictions if the legislation is passed, when this needs not be the case.

“The point that I really want to make in here today, is the same point that I had to make regrettably with the Road Traffic Act. We have come in here 13 weeks today from the dissolution of this Parliament. This Parliament dies in 13 weeks and that which this Government could not do in four years and nine months, it is now trying to do without consultation in one fell swoop,” Mottley charged.

“Farmers are now going to be subject to a mandatory system of registration and vendors who are not retailers, to a mandatory system of registration. And this is the point that the Minister misses. The problem is not that it is mandatory; the problem is that the penalty for failing to register is a criminal conviction with a criminal sentence,” she lamented.

“We have indicated that there can be no determined effect to criminalise Barbadians for regulatory breaches, in the second decade of the 21st century and that we can have order in our society without making people criminals, because they sold in the wrong place or they sold without a market license. And when we make our people criminals, they can’t go for a visa and get it easily. They can’t go and get a job easily,” Mottley further stated.

Noting that the Government had not met with the farmers and vendors or their respective umbrella bodies, Mottley suggested that Government must not be in a “mad rush” to pass this piece of legislation targeted at curbing praedial larceny, as there are some amendments to be made. Instead, she said it should be brought before a Select Committee because if passed as is, Government will have to pay out money for bad legislation.

“The legislation is defective. It is rushed legislation. It is bad legislation. It needs to go to Select Committee and we need to have a situation where others can have input,” Mottley stated. (RSM)

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