Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : September 5th 2013 Contents A6
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Thursday, September 5, 2013
6.1000 6.2649 6.4435
5.6975 5.9974 6.3273
9.3031 9.7927 10.3215
7.8455 8.2584 8.7126
****** 0.0630 0.0668
2.1123 2.2960 2.4567
* 2.5688 ****** 3.2722
for SEPTEMBER 04th 2013
The Congress of the People s (COP)
National Council scheduled a special
session last night to decide how many
local government seats, whether all
or some, the party wished to contest
within the coalition PP.
The meeting was also to strategise
for tomorrow s Parliament debate on
Government s proportional represen-
tation legislation which would govern
the local government polls.
COP acting general secretary Clive
Weatherhead said the council called
the meeting to examine the priority
issues, particularly COP s participation
in the October 21 polls.
He said COP had 70-plus local gov-
ernment nominees so far but no deci-
sion to date on where they would con-
test. He said the meeting would discuss
the party s preferences. It is seeking a
larger number of seats to contest.
COP chairman Carolyn Seepersad-
Bachan also said last night s meeting
would try to ascertain from members
if it should enter the election as a party
contesting all 134 places in the 14
regional corporations or some places
and, if so, what number.
For the last poll COP had contested
a minority figure and only won places
in two corporations.
Whatever position adopted by the
COP would be communicated to the
PP in negotiations during the weekend
over the polls.
COP hopes the allocation of seats
would be settled by then, ahead of the
2014 budget presentation on Monday
and the two-week debate the budget
would require, it was stated.
UNC deputy leader Suruj Rambachan
said the PP negotiations, which would
take place on the weekend, was a "fairly
easy" exercise and should be completed
before the budget presentation.
Asked if the COP would obtain the
increased number of seats it was seek-
ing, Rambachan said: "We will work
out the situation to the mutual benefit
of all PP members."
He said UNC s Local Government
nominees were still incoming and the
party would complete screening by the
end of the next week.
Meanwhile, ILP s Sunil Ramjitsingh
was unable to confirm whether a rel-
ative of either Rambachan or Attorney
General Anand Ramlogan had been
screened by the ILP to contest the local
Ramjitsingh said he had heard such
speculation but could not confirm it.
Rambachan said he was unaware that
any relative of his was being screened
by the ILP.
The ILP has been opening regional
offices and screening nominees this
week. On Tuesday, it chose eight can-
didates to contest Chaguanas Borough
seats. Ramjitsingh said nominees were
mostly young first-timers in politics.
Screening continued in Curepe yes-
terday for nominees for eight seats in
the Tunapuna/Piarco Corporation, with
55 people turning up for screening.
Today the ILP begins screenings for
the Sangre Grande Corporation.
Ramjitsingh said the party would extend
its nominee deadline to cater for the
flow of interested people.
Opposition PNM candidates,
finalised since July, have been cam-
paigning since then.
The terms and conditions of a
tracts should be subject to par-
liamentary scrutiny, says Plan-
ning Minister Bhoe Tewarie.
He was commenting when
asked to explain why government-
to-government arrangements were
left out of the draft procurement
legislation and if that was so, how
situations of contracts being given
to alleged "dodgy" companies
could be avoided.
Tewarie said one could not have
negotiated agreements between
governments subject to an open
procurement process, because gen-
erally there was a link between the
financial arrangements and com-
panies in the country that was
supporting the financial arrange-
He added: "But I understand
the issue of transparency, which
is a legitimate concern, and it is
my view that the terms and con-
ditions of a government-to-gov-
ernment contract should be subject
to parliamentary scrutiny."
He said that was not the case
Asked if the public could expect
such scrutiny to be developed in
the parliamentary arena, Tewarie
"That is something that can be
addressed... if not in the (procure-
ment) legislation... it can be appro-
priately accommodated elsewhere,"
He added that while work had
to be done within the government-
to-government framework, at the
same time Government could not
ignore the transparency respon-
sibility it held on behalf of T&T s
Tewarie said Government s draft
procurement legislation covered
every single state entity, which, he
said, was not the case currently in
terms of public tendering and pro-
"It also establishes the office of
Procurement Regulator, who will
have the power to refer any matters
of concern to the Parliament for
the consideration of the Public
Accounts Committee, and that will
include transparency issues," he
Leader of the Congress of the
People (COP) Prakash Ramadhar
says he is in full support of the
proportional representation (PR)
bill and expected it to be the new
way forward for T&T elections,
beyond local government elec-
tions on October 21 and incor-
porating PR into the general elec-
Speaking at the Ministry of
Legal Affairs office, Port-of-Spain,
yesterday, he said it was historic
in its magnitude and marked a
first for electoral reform.
"What this does, as we move
forward from local into general
(election), the Prime Minister is
committed to bringing propor-
tional representation into general
He said it would create a new
realm of coalition politics which
would destabilise the "powerbro-
kers," because they would have to
share power and be accountable
within any ruling organisation.
"I know many people may not
want to support it because it is
against their gatekeeping interests
because this really empowers the
people more than anything else,"
When asked about detractors
who said it was a strategy to
improve the Government s
chances of winning the upcoming
local government elections,
Ramadhar said they would find
criticism in anything, whether
there was merit to their claims or
"I could tell you this, I know
Mr Rowley had attacked it and
said it was vulgar. If you look at
the history of the PNM (People s
National Movement) they have
never wanted proportional repre-
sentation," he added.
He said the country s first Prime
Minister Dr Eric Williams of the
PNM once said proportional rep-
resentation was a dagger to the
heart of his party.
As it is, the current system has
a winner-take-all approach, which
Ramadhar said led to no repre-
sentation for many people. He
said the new reform legislation
would be the first step toward
dealing with the issue.
"This is electoral reform for the first
time in this nation and we welcome
any change for electoral reform. The
democracy we claim to have is exercised
by a population only on election day,"
He said that in the current system,
if a party won six out of ten seats in
a corporation, that party could appoint
all alderman positions. He said as a
result, the population would "not have
a clue" who would be appointed.
Ramadhar sees PR as new way forward
Govt-to-govt contracts need watchdog
Members of the Neptune School of Drumming compete in the Prime Minister's Best Village Trophy
Competition in the folk music instrumental finals, featuring tassa, parang and drumology, at Queen's Hall,
St Ann's, on Monday night. PHOTO: EDISON BOODOOSINGH
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