Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : September 7th 2013 Contents A6
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Saturday, September 7, 2013
The Downtown Owners and Mer-
chants Association (Doma) or the
Chamber of Industry and Commerce
could find places on some regional cor-
porations if representatives are chosen
to be aldermen and bring their skills
to bear there, Government Minister
Suruj Rambachan said yesterday.
Rambachan, former local government
minister, said so while piloting the Gov-
ernment s proportional representation
legislation in Parliament yesterday. The
bill seeks to change the way aldermen
are appointed, using a proportional rep-
resentation system, though the election
of councillors remains with the first-
Rambachan, who lost the local gov-
ernment portfolio in Thursday s reshuffle
to Marlene Coudray, is now solely Works
and Infrastructure Minister.
Piloting the bill yesterday, Rambachan
received some quizzical and amused
stares from PNM MPs who queried
picong-style, "how" he was piloting the
PNM leader Keith Rowley, in his con-
tribution, queried Rambachan s delivery,
saying the "outgoing minister "was pilot-
ing the bill and another local government
minister was "on the way."
Rambachan spoke at length on the
significance of the step towards propor-
tional representation in T&T and Gov-
ernment s leadership in this. He said the
Government was prepared to lead the
change for T&T, even if its own position
was at stake in the situation.
However, Rambachan insisted the PP
was not afraid of what might transpire
in local government polls.
"We have no fear---this Government
isn t introducing this amendment out
of fear...as the Prime Minister says, win
lose or draw we ve called local govern-
ment elections when it is due. THA elec-
tions were called when due and general
elections will be called in 2015 when
constitutionally due, so there s no fear
"If not now, when?" he added, saying
the Government was "here to govern"
and had to take action in the public inter-
est.Rambachan said the four aldermen
proposed in the bill could bring increased
and special skills to corporations.
He said under the current system,
some corporations only have two alder-
men and some three and four and alder-
men are currently chosen "willy-nilly."
Under the new system, minority inter-
ests could be represented, he added.
Rambachan said in an areas like Port
of-Spain with business interests---and
where the current mayor had conflicts
with the business and other sectors---
aldermen could be chosen to represent
business interests "which could reduce
conflict and create consensus."
"So Doma or the T&T Chamber may
find places as aldermen," Rambachan
"Or you can have experts on social
issues, local economic development or
urban planning in other places.
"In the Couva/Talparo corporation
where there are many farmers in
Tabaquite for instance, there could be
an agricultural expert as aldermen to
represent those interests as councillors
may not have skillset to do so."
Rambachan said the same applied to
Sangre Grande which has tourism poten-
tial and where aldermen could have skills
in promoting this.
"So it brings additional competence
to corporations," he said.
Rambachan said the legislation would
allow aldermen to be identified by the
public at the same time candidates for
councillors are revealed by parties,
widening the participatory process.
Under the PR process and formula,
aldermen appointed via the system would
rule out the possibility of aldermen being
given the position by a party as a reward
"and the public will be able to better
examine the quality of people they want,"
Candidates who fail to be elected
councillors will not be able to go up for
the alderman position, he said.
Suruj: Govt prepared to
lead the change for T&T
PR bill laid in Parliament...
Opposition Leader Keith
Rowley dismissed the Gov-
ernment s proportional rep-
resentation legislation as "a
UNC bailout" when he spoke
in yesterday s Parliament
debate on the bill.
"This bill has nothing to do
with altruistic principle or fur-
thering participatory democ-
racy, as Government claimed,"
"Come clean and tell people
exactly what we ve embarked
upon. Don t sell us this as part
of any great reform. This is a
dagger in the heart of local
He said the bill was really
about giving the PP an oppor-
tunity to ensure it got alder-
men into corporations for local
government polls which the
PP might lose.
Rowley said the legislation
was a struggle to ensure the
PP could get the last alderman
in corporations out of the four
allotted per corporation, on
which the PR system operat-
ed.Saying the legislation gave
the PP a 25 per cent chance
of obtaining an alderman
instead of getting none, Rowley
added: "You ask why this
mighty partnership is so des-
perate to get one alderman?
"It s because they re are now
clutching straws to retain
power in corporations," he said.
"This is naked politicking.
You are fooling nobody. This
is political expediency.
"The Government has sat
down and received its polls.
The polls show the UNC will
be wiped out, and they decid-
ed to come up with this ruse,
on the advice of their
unknown adviser, that if they
use this discourse on propor-
tional representation, it will
save them the embarrassment
they faced in the Tobago THA
Rowley said after the local
government polls were called
for October 21, the Govern-
ment "all of a sudden got a
brainwave to be the giver of
things democratic" and intro-
duce the system.
He said it was because the
PP realised they would get zero
seats in Diego Martin, Arima,
San Fernando and Chaguanas
and the PR system would allow
an opportunity to get an alder-
man into corporations "when
otherwise they d receive zero."
He said the PP might use
any aldermen they get into a
corporation to do the bidding
of the Local Government Min-
But after local government
polls in October, he said, T&T
would be heading to a general
election, though the PP
administration didn t accept
that corporations would fall in
the local polls.
Rowley said the PNM had
no problem with proportional
He added that the Govern-
ment had votes to obtain pas-
sage of the simple majority
bill and would probably also
get it passed in the Senate. But
he criticised the Government
for haste in presenting the bill
and not seeking more feedback
outside the Parliament first.
Rowley said the Govern-
ment could have taken advan-
tage of the environment in
which the Opposition had
opened its door to talks with
Government on crime .
But, he said, "There s an
election coming---meet us out-
PM's olive branch
"We want no part of you,"
Opposition Leader Keith Row-
ley has said, spurning the
Prime Minister s extension of
an olive branch.
On Thursday, Prime Min-
ister Kamla Persad-Bissessar
had said she was offering an
olive branch to all opposition
groups to work toward T&T s
Yesterday in Parliament,
Rowley said now the coalition
has "collapsed," the PP was
calling for a government of
But he said, "You could call
for London and Rowley and
Warner and everybody to work
together, but we want no part
There was sustained PNM
Imitating the PM s manner
of speech, he said she had said
she could speak for "(Jack)
Warner and (Winston) Dook-
eran and the cabal, but Rowley
will have nothing to do with
"What we want? We want
can begin to take responsibility
for T&T and rectify the dam-
age you have done."
the heart of
New Minister of Lands and Marine Resources Jairam Seemungal, left, is welcomed to the front bench by Works and
Infrasturcture Minister Suruj Rambachan shortly before yesterday's sitting of Parliament. At right is Community Development
Minister Gypsy Peters. PHOTO: NICOLE DRAYTON
further 42 days
Former prime minister Patrick
Manning has again sought 42 days'
leave from the Parliament, Deputy
Speaker Nela Khan confirmed
Khan announced Manning's request
during yesterday's resumption of
Parliament sittings in the new term.
She said Manning's leave is effective
August 18. Khan said Manning's
request was accompanied by a
certificate from the medical officer
assigned to him.
Khan acted for Speaker Wade Mark
who was overseas.
Efforts to contact Manning
yesterday were futile. A relative said
he was not at home.
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