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HomeNewsArchivesV.I. ONE STEP CLOSER TO UCC COMPLIANCE

V.I. ONE STEP CLOSER TO UCC COMPLIANCE

Oct. 27, 2001 – The Virgin Islands came one step closer to compliance with the national Uniform Commercial Code Friday.
Gov. Charles W. Turnbull approved two sections of the complex document last February in a bill passed by the Legislature but vetoed the third section. On Friday the Economic Development, Agriculture and Consumer Protection Committee approved a reworded version of the bill sent down by the governor — after amending the language he had submitted.
Turnbull had said he vetoed the third section of the bill because it "contains provisions for non-judicial enforcement of mortgages." He said the provisions could involve foreclosure without benefit of the judicial process.
On Friday, attorney Tom Bolt, chair of the V.I. Uniform Law Commission, reiterated what he had said in February: "This doesn't apply to real property. There is no way you can get non-judicial real estate foreclosure from Article 9." Bolt said passing the bill is important because failure to do so "will limit the amount of credit available to the V.I."
Cassan Pancham, Chase Manhattan Bank general manager and V.I. Bankers Association president, said the legislation "is of critical importance to the territory's economic status and ability to do business using the same commercial language as the rest of the American business world."
He told the lawmakers, "Since Sept. 11 the … recent economic news here has not been good. One of the most significant steps you can take is to adopt this bill. Time is of the essence … this legislation is historic. It is well crafted and keeps the wheels of commerce rolling. Let the V.I. participate in this important transition with the rest of the U. S."
Sen. Roosevelt David agreed. "The commercial codes in the V. I. are 50 years behind," he said. "The laws on our books are archaic. We need to stop the talk and just do it."
According to Pancham, "Literally every state in the country, as well as the District of Columbia, has already adopted this body of law." Without the standard, uniform, updated provisions of the code in place here, he said, "our people are being asked to run a race with their shoelaces tied together. It is a distinct, unnecessary, easily avoided disadvantage."
But Pancham also said language Turnbull had inserted in Article 9 of the bill "effectively eliminates repossession as an alternative" and "It simply has to come out of the bill."
It was taken out Friday by amendment, after which the measure passed unanimously. It will now move to the Rules Committee.
In other action, the committee approved a bill creating a commission to develop a comprehensive plan for aquaculture in the territory. "We want to generate a new industry in the V.I.," Senate President Almando "Rocky" Liburd said. "If we don't protect our environment now, there will be nothing left for our children."
Agriculture Commissioner Henry Schuster explained that "aquaculture involves not only fishing in the open sea, but also the farming of other seafood -– oysters, clams, lobsters, shrimp. Worldwide, aquaculture is a multibillion-dollar activity."
However, Schuster said, set-up costs for fish farming are high. "It takes a businessman to develop and finance fish farms, especially in tropical areas where diseases can develop quickly," he said.
Friday's session also addressed public-access communications. Sen. Adelbert Bryan, the committee chair, wanted to know why the government television channel isn't used to air legislative meetings. He told James
O'Bryan, the governor's public relations adviser, "You have that station doing nothing." Government House controls the channel, Bryan said, and "they can shut out any information they don't want people to hear."
The channel is operated within the Education Department.
Bryan called several communications executives, including Samuel Ebbesen, president of Innovative Telephone; Andrea Martin, general manager of Innovative Cable St. Thomas-St. John; and J'Ada Finch-Sheen, Innovative Group general counsel, to testify, as well as Walter Challenger, chair of the Public Services Commission.
In 1999, the PSC approved Government House control of two government-run television stations at the request of Turnbull. Under questioning by Bryan, Challenger said the PSC doesn't have the resources to ask the cable stations to establish public access channels.
Finch-Sheen said, "The government access channel does not have adequate television for 24 hours. My solution would be to have the executive branch and the Legislature share the channel."
O'Bryan said airing Senate meetings could interfere with programming that is geared toward classrooms. Bryan said he will push legislation that will force Government House to share the two channels.
The Senate committee also unanimously passed a bill to reduce gross receipts taxes by 50 percent for businesses involved in public works projects and contracts for such projects if they employ residents who have been in the territory for not less than five years.
A hearing on the status of the Yacht Haven Hotel and Marina redevelopment project, including a $5 million guarantee to the developer, was postponed because several of those called to testify were not available.
Committee members attending the hearing on St. Thomas were Sen. Bryan, David, Emmett Hansen II, Donald "Ducks" Cole and Norman Jn. Baptiste. Sens. Vargrave Richards and Celestino A. White Sr. were absent. Non-committee Sen. David Jones also attended.

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Oct. 27, 2001 – The Virgin Islands came one step closer to compliance with the national Uniform Commercial Code Friday.
Gov. Charles W. Turnbull approved two sections of the complex document last February in a bill passed by the Legislature but vetoed the third section. On Friday the Economic Development, Agriculture and Consumer Protection Committee approved a reworded version of the bill sent down by the governor -- after amending the language he had submitted.
Turnbull had said he vetoed the third section of the bill because it "contains provisions for non-judicial enforcement of mortgages." He said the provisions could involve foreclosure without benefit of the judicial process.
On Friday, attorney Tom Bolt, chair of the V.I. Uniform Law Commission, reiterated what he had said in February: "This doesn't apply to real property. There is no way you can get non-judicial real estate foreclosure from Article 9." Bolt said passing the bill is important because failure to do so "will limit the amount of credit available to the V.I."
Cassan Pancham, Chase Manhattan Bank general manager and V.I. Bankers Association president, said the legislation "is of critical importance to the territory's economic status and ability to do business using the same commercial language as the rest of the American business world."
He told the lawmakers, "Since Sept. 11 the ... recent economic news here has not been good. One of the most significant steps you can take is to adopt this bill. Time is of the essence ... this legislation is historic. It is well crafted and keeps the wheels of commerce rolling. Let the V.I. participate in this important transition with the rest of the U. S."
Sen. Roosevelt David agreed. "The commercial codes in the V. I. are 50 years behind," he said. "The laws on our books are archaic. We need to stop the talk and just do it."
According to Pancham, "Literally every state in the country, as well as the District of Columbia, has already adopted this body of law." Without the standard, uniform, updated provisions of the code in place here, he said, "our people are being asked to run a race with their shoelaces tied together. It is a distinct, unnecessary, easily avoided disadvantage."
But Pancham also said language Turnbull had inserted in Article 9 of the bill "effectively eliminates repossession as an alternative" and "It simply has to come out of the bill."
It was taken out Friday by amendment, after which the measure passed unanimously. It will now move to the Rules Committee.
In other action, the committee approved a bill creating a commission to develop a comprehensive plan for aquaculture in the territory. "We want to generate a new industry in the V.I.," Senate President Almando "Rocky" Liburd said. "If we don't protect our environment now, there will be nothing left for our children."
Agriculture Commissioner Henry Schuster explained that "aquaculture involves not only fishing in the open sea, but also the farming of other seafood -– oysters, clams, lobsters, shrimp. Worldwide, aquaculture is a multibillion-dollar activity."
However, Schuster said, set-up costs for fish farming are high. "It takes a businessman to develop and finance fish farms, especially in tropical areas where diseases can develop quickly," he said.
Friday's session also addressed public-access communications. Sen. Adelbert Bryan, the committee chair, wanted to know why the government television channel isn't used to air legislative meetings. He told James
O'Bryan, the governor's public relations adviser, "You have that station doing nothing." Government House controls the channel, Bryan said, and "they can shut out any information they don't want people to hear."
The channel is operated within the Education Department.
Bryan called several communications executives, including Samuel Ebbesen, president of Innovative Telephone; Andrea Martin, general manager of Innovative Cable St. Thomas-St. John; and J'Ada Finch-Sheen, Innovative Group general counsel, to testify, as well as Walter Challenger, chair of the Public Services Commission.
In 1999, the PSC approved Government House control of two government-run television stations at the request of Turnbull. Under questioning by Bryan, Challenger said the PSC doesn't have the resources to ask the cable stations to establish public access channels.
Finch-Sheen said, "The government access channel does not have adequate television for 24 hours. My solution would be to have the executive branch and the Legislature share the channel."
O'Bryan said airing Senate meetings could interfere with programming that is geared toward classrooms. Bryan said he will push legislation that will force Government House to share the two channels.
The Senate committee also unanimously passed a bill to reduce gross receipts taxes by 50 percent for businesses involved in public works projects and contracts for such projects if they employ residents who have been in the territory for not less than five years.
A hearing on the status of the Yacht Haven Hotel and Marina redevelopment project, including a $5 million guarantee to the developer, was postponed because several of those called to testify were not available.
Committee members attending the hearing on St. Thomas were Sen. Bryan, David, Emmett Hansen II, Donald "Ducks" Cole and Norman Jn. Baptiste. Sens. Vargrave Richards and Celestino A. White Sr. were absent. Non-committee Sen. David Jones also attended.