The Electronic Transactions Bill, 2013, which seeks to provide for the transfer of information and records by electronic means, has been sent back to the House of Representatives.
The Bill was taken through all its stages during a sitting of the Upper House last month but encountered substantial amendments during last week Wednesday’s sitting of the Senate.
Presented by Parliamentary Secretary with responsibility for Information, Winston Garraway, the Bill was supported by all members of Parliament including Trade Union representative, Raymond Roberts, despite his concern with what he believes is the haste by the NNP-led government in passing five electronic Bills through Parliament in one sitting.
Roberts told the Senate that he is disappointed that government did not make use of the local media to educate the population on these bills since they are the ones who will be forced to deal with a major cultural change.
He believes that more public consultations should have taken place before the Bills were brought to Parliament.
In defense of the draft legislation, Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Tourism, Brenda Hood, reminded members about the public ridicule the previous NNP government received when they introduced computers in schools years ago.
Sen. Hood recalled that during that period people believed the administration should have invested the monies in schoolbooks rather than the emerging technology and today the results of such investments speaks for itself.
There were two major amendments to the Act as highlighted by Private Sector Representative, Sen. Christopher De Allie who pointed out the need to include specific source of funds regarding Sections 40 subsection two of the draft document.
DeAllie suggested that in the event that a company contravenes any of the provisions of the Act, that in addition to fines and term of imprisonment ranging from $200,000.00 to $500,000.00 or three to six years imprisonment, that they could be fined up to 10% of gross net profit of the last audited year of the corporation.
The private sector representative indicated that contrary to Sen. Roberts’ belief, Grenada is playing catch-up to the world as this bill is critical for the private sector, as many businessmen would no longer need to travel to sign a document, will see an immediate reduction in cost of travel and more efficiency in doing business.
Sen. De Allie told colleague Senators that his only concern with the bill is related to security in the cyber world.
As a result of the amendment to the original draft Bill, the document will now go back to the Lower House and will be re-submitted to the Senate for its third reading and passage.
Other related Bills passed during last week’s sitting were the Electronic Filing Bill, 2013, presented by Leader of Government Business, Kenny Lalsingh that seeks to enable information and forms to be filed electronically with public authorities and for related matters.
Another was the Electronic Transfer of Funds Crimes Bill, 2013, presented by Parliamentary Secretary for Agriculture, Senator Simon Stiell which seeks to provide for the transfer of information and records by electronic means.
Government also passed the Electronic Evidence Bill, 2013, presented by Parliamentary Secretary for youth & Sports, Senator Sheldon Scott, which seeks to make provision for the legal recognition of electronic records and to facilitate the admission of such records into evidence in legal proceedings.
The bills have now all been passed in both the Lower and Upper Houses of Parliament and now await the approval of Governor General, Dr, Cecile La Grenade and its publication in the gazette before becoming law.
The Electronic Crimes Bill 2013, which seeks to provide for the prevention and punishment of electronic crimes, was withdrawn in the Senate and sent back to the Lower House for further debate.