Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : April 27th 2015 Contents A10
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for APRIL 24TH, 2015
Trinidad and Tobago will see sweeping reforms
in the way the country is governed should the Peo-
ple s National Movement become the next govern-
ment following the 2015 general election, its political
leader Dr Keith Rowley says.
In a sit-down interview with the T&T Guardian on
Friday, Rowley shared his vision for T&T, which includ-
ed making the role of MP a full-time job, creating a
new post whose office holder would monitor and
report on MPs' behaviour and strengthening oversight
of government spending.
He said "insufficient time" was being spent on the
major assignment of the Parliament, namely examining
the work of the executive.
"That is the problem and the main reason is that
most of the people who are ministers busy with min-
isterial duties are not available to the Parliament, or
there are opposition members who are operating on
a part-time understanding," he said.
This, Rowley said, had to change and he had put
on record his commitment to bringing about that
change, putting all MPs on notice that more would
be expected of them. He said even the opposition
MPs had to be full time.
"Members of Parliament, for example, those who
are not ministers, must be deemed full time. If that
is the case, opposition members, whoever they are,
PNM, whoever it is, opposition MPs must be available
to the Parliament as operatives to spend more time
on these issues. It is making a bigger demand on
members' time," he said.
He said he expected that Prime Minister Kamla
Persad-Bissessar or prime ministers in general would
not accept his plan because they "do not like systems
of oversight over their government."
"When I had to say the reason I was fired (in 2008)
was over Udecott, all hell broke loose," he recalled as
he referred to his tumultuous relationship with former
prime minister Patrick Manning, who dismissed him
as housing minister.
He said he was removed because he demanded
accountability from Udecott, which at the time was
"out of control."
Proper oversight of Udecott, he added, would have
prevented the situation where it was facing a com-
mission of enquiry and the then PNM government
"would never have ended up in that situation reported
in the Uff Commission."
The commission uncovered poor procurement prac-
tices and gross administrative deficiencies.
He lamented that a new government (the People's
Partnership) came in after that problem and worsened
"The Government did absolutely nothing following
our experience of 2009 and 2010, but this Government
became a Government of the largest Cabinet ever, so
instead of fixing the problem the Government worsened
the problem," he said.
The PNM, he said, paid the penalty in the 2010
general election for poor oversight by losing office.
"We did not cry, we set about to fix it. I am here
now standing on that solid ground with the full party
support" to undertake the needed reform, he said.
Salary hike necessary
Rowley said logically, if MPs were moved from a
part-time arrangement to a full-time one and emol-
uments were computed on that basis, then their salaries
should reflect the increased commitment.
"We are saying we need our parliamentarians full
time...It does not affect ministers because ministers
are in fact functioning full time, and are compensated
as full time," he said.
The PNM leader, who acknowledged there would
be some resistance to his plans, said he was committed
to bringing accountability and transparency back into
government to fulfil the mandate of Section 75 (1) of
the Constitution. That section states as follows: "There
shall be a Cabinet for Trinidad and Tobago which
shall have the general direction and control of the
Government of Trinidad and Tobago and shall be col-
lectively responsible therefore to
He contended that the Parlia-
ment had authority to hold people
"I am raising this not in the context
of this Opposition and this Government.
• Continues on Page A11
PNM would make Govt leaner, cleaner
Rowley pledges major reform
People's National Movement (PNM) Dr Keith Rowley chats with candidates and campaign managers for the upcoming 2015 general
elections during a recent seminar at Ortinola Great House, Maracas, St Joseph. PHOTO: RISHI RAGOONATH
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