Civil Aviation Bill passed despite protest by Opposition

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Members of Parliament

The Opposition’s efforts to have the Civil Aviation Bill 2017 resent to a select committee were defeated by the Government during Monday’s sitting of the National Assembly, as it was passed with amendments.

In her address to the chambers, Opposition Chief Whip Gail Teixeira said that based on her research, the bill is deficient. According to Teixeira, the bill is not on par with what may be expected by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO). Some of the issues she had with the Bill were its penalties – penalties she described as draconian.

“Aspects of the Bill to do with offences are draconian, like in other bills like Cyber Crime and (Anti Money Laundering/Countering the Financing of Terrorism bills). For instance, a passenger going on the plane that is inebriated can be fined $1 million and also imprisoned.”

File Photo: PPP/C Chief Whip Gail Teixeira speaking in the National Assembly

“So the Bill makes very draconian offences for what are regular kinds of passenger problems. In addition to that, there are major issues in the Bill to do with how licensing and registration are done, as well as accident investigation.”

According to Teixeira, the Bill was being rushed because of the upcoming Air Transport Conference to be hosted in Guyana. Guyana will be hosting aviation representatives from around the world from November 21 to 23. But according to Public Infrastructure Minister David Patterson, the Bill was perfectly fine in its current state.

“We went through this bill exhaustively. One particular agency objected. When we went through the bill, every objection by that agency was exhaustively looked at.  And members sat there and debated on the merit.”

“One agency that objected, insisted and we agreed that there must be a clearer defined right of appeal. And we rewrote the entire section of Right of Appeal based on the objection of that one agency. And we sent it to them.”

The Bill was then read for a third time and passed in the House. The Bill has been in a special select committee since last year. The new Bill will replace the Civil Aviation Act Chapter 53:01.

It contains a number of offences, such as applying for aviation documents when disqualified or displaying false nationality or registration on an aircraft. On summary conviction, such offences carry a fine of $1 million and two years’ imprisonment in the former and $3 million in the latter.

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