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Weeks after breaking party ranks and voting
against the Constitutional (Amendment) Bill
2014, Congress of the People (COP) chairman
Carolyn Seepersad-Bachan says she is "unsure"
whether the amendments passed in Senate
addressed her concerns with the controversial
"The runoff provision was not discussed publicly
and I felt that it was too much of an important
provision. It changes the electoral system and
there needed to be more consensus nationally and
it should have emerged from the people.
"The Constitution should emerge from the peo-
ple and not the politicians," she said.
Speaking to the media after the signing of the
Code of Ethical Political Conduct at the Arch-
bishop s House, St Clair, yesterday, Seepersad-
Bachan said she was still "disappointed" at the
way the debate unfolded.
"I felt there were too much emotions playing
out and we did not really have a very objective
discussion and debate on the issue as to the merits
and demerits of the bill," she said.
She said she was still "deeply concerned" about
whether the controversial runoff provision would
eradicate the third party voice.
"It is clear that the third party voice is a growing
constituency," she said, adding this was the main
reason she did not support the bill.
She said the COP 2007 manifesto spoke to
giving a voice to the minority while allowing the
majority to rule, which was intrinsic to proportional
representation. The runoff, she said, was not the
"It does not... the measure itself is quite dia-
metrically opposite to the issue of proportional
representation. I have heard speakers publicly stat-
ing, even in the Upper House, that it represents
runoff, that is totally, totally untrue," she said.
She questioned whether the amendments made
in the Senate last week addressed the issues that
she raised in her contribution to the debate.
"I am yet to be convinced that those amend-
ments would address those concerns, especially
in terms of giving a voice to the minorities in this
country," she said.
Seepersad-Bachan and former COP leader Win-
ston Dookeran voted against the coalition party
during the heated debate on the bill in the Lower
The bill, which contains provisions for a two-
term limit for a prime minister, right to recall and
a second ballot runoff, was first passed after a
marathon debate on August 12.
It was then passed with amendments in Senate
on August 29, thanks to the support of Independent
Senators David Small, Dr Dhanayshar Mahabir
and Dr Rolph Balgobin.
Among the amendments passed in Senate was
a varied the runoff plan, suggested by Mahabir,
which allows a third candidate who secures 25
per cent of the vote or votes amounting to five
per cent less than the second runner-up the chance
to contest the runoff.
Carolyn still vex
over runoff bill
for 04TH SEPTEMBER, 2014
Energy Minister Kevin Ramnarine is
assuring the nation that there will be no
gas price increases in Monday s 2014/2015
He gave the assurance yesterday as he
sought to allay public fears of a looming gas
hike after the International Monetary Fund
(IMF) recommended T&T cut its fuel subsidy
to facilitate sustainable economic growth.
Speaking at yesterday s post-Cabinet
media briefing at the San Fernando Teaching
Hospital, Chancery Lane, San Fernando,
Ramnarine said a Government fuel price
hike will not be part of Finance Minister
Larry Howai s budget announcements.
"Just to dispel any sort of idea, the Gov-
ernment is not going to be increasing the
price of transportation fuels at any point in
time. That is not on the agenda," Ramnarine
This, even as the IMF, following consul-
tation with Finance Ministry officials in June,
said Government would need to cut fuel
subsidies and cut and rationalise social pro-
grammes to ensure there was economic
Ramnarine also said yesterday Cabinet
had accepted his ministry s recommendations
to provide incentives to encourage the adop-
tion and introduction of hybrid and electric
vehicles in T&T.
He said those incentives, which relate to
Motor Vehicle Tax and VAT (Value Added
Tax), will be announced by Howai in the
"The purpose of these incentives is geared
towards making hybrids and electric cars
more affordable, compared to the gasolene
and diesel equivalent. It is estimated that
hybrid vehicles are $67,000 to $100,000
more expensive than their gasolene equiv-
alent, thus making them uncompetitive in
T&T," he said.
But Ramnarine hopes the impending
incentives will encourage the purchase of
the low carbon vehicles.
Hybrid vehicles, he said, were very popular
in the US, Europe and Japan. They use two
distinct power sources, one being the tra-
ditional internal combustion engine and the
other an electric motor powered by batteries.
That, he said, resulted in greater energy effi-
ciency and a great reduction in greenhouse
"In keeping with international best prac-
tices and in keeping with the Government s
vision to move towards a low carbon green
economy, Cabinet has accepted our recom-
mendations for hybrid vehicles," he said.
Cabinet agrees to hold hand on gas hike
Plan for hybrid
vehicles on cards
Ramnarine also said his ministry had
been working closely with the United
Nations Environment Programme
(UNEP) on transitioning T&T towards a
low carbon future.
He said hybrid vehicles and electric
vehicles would be ideal to help T&T
achieve low carbon emissions. He said
no infrastructure was required for those
vehicles, since hybrid vehicles used fuel
more efficiently, so it lasted longer.
The electric car, he said, was charged
as easily as plugging in a cellphone
charger. However, he said ,the car would
obviously not use the same amount of
energy as the cellphone.
"We have to provide the population
with a menu of options, one being CNG
(Compressed Natural Gas), one being
hybrids and one being electric vehicles.
So that is what is really driving this
policy. It had been Government's vision
for a low carbon economy for T&T," he
Ramnarine also announced that Prime
Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar would
formally open the Galeota port today.
The port, he said, would be the energy
port of the east coast and had been
built to provide logistical support for oil
and gas companies operating on that
Additionally, Ramnarine said,
construction of the BP/Technip platform
would start in the fourth quarter of
2014, which would resuscitate the
platform fabrication industry in La Brea
LOW CARBON FUTURE AHEAD
Hyatt Regency Trinidad staff Gail Sadoo, left, Jessy Mainard, Danyalla Benjamin and Christine Clifford strike a pose in their Texan
outfits at the culinary festival "Taste of Texas" yesterday at the hotel. The event showcased Texan cuisine. PHOTO: ANDRE ALEXANDER
TASTE OF TEXAS
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