Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : January 28th 2014 Contents A6
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Tuesday, January 28, 2014
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y PHOTO: DARREN RAMPERSAD
Leader of the Opposition Dr Keith
Rowley is promising no support for
the Government for proposed
changes to the Constitution as con-
tained in the December 27, 2013
report of the Cabinet-appointed
commission chaired by Legal Affairs
Minister Prakash Ramadhar.
Rowley indicated so during a news
conference at his Charles Street,
Port-of-Spain, office yesterday.
The 47-page report was discussed
in Cabinet last week and will be
made available to the public and spe-
cific stakeholders tomorrow for addi-
tional public comment.
Rowley, who called for the docu-
ment to be made public, said it was
expected to be used by the People s
Partnership Government as a tool in
next year s general election.
The Diego Martin West MP said
a similar attempt was made by the
Government on the eve of the Octo-
ber 21, 2013 local government elec-
tions when it brought a motion to
Parliament to allow for aldermen to
be elected by a system of propor-
He said that was unwelcome by
the PNM and it was not prepared to
support any rushed measure in Par-
"We are simply putting the Gov-
ernment on notice that where it
involves support from the Opposition
for any of their adventures and their
folly, the PNM will provide no
accompaniment," Rowley said.
The commission recommended
that the Constitution should be
changed to allow only senators to be
appointed as ministers.
It recommended also that all sen-
ators, except the nine appointed by
the President, should be elected by
the population, via a system of pro-
The document said electors would
be allowed to cast two ballots during
the election, one for an MP and the
other for senator.
Members of the House of Repre-
sentatives, the document said, should
perform the roles of representing
their constituencies, serving on par-
liamentary committees and moni-
toring the Government.
Rowley said the Opposition Peo-
ple s National Movement (PNM)
wanted amendments to the Consti-
tution to rectify existing shortcom-
ings and not radical reform.
He said he was not satisfied with
the way the commission conducted
its work as the population was not
adequately consulted on it.
Rowley noted he was not sure if
the report contained any recommen-
dations for granting internal self-
government for Tobago within the
unitary state. Internal self-govern-
ment was a matter of high priority
for Tobagonians, he said.
The issue was not addressed in
the report, which was obtained by
the T&T Guardian.
Rowley said the PNM would not
allow itself to be set up in the matter,
insisting that the Opposition was
open for proper discussions on
amendment to the Constitution but
"not open to being railroaded by a
misleading majority in the Parlia-
Rowley said he was not surprised
that some people had described the
recommendations as the worst ever.
The Senate will resume the
committee stage of debate on
the Bail (Amendment) Bill when
it meets at Tower D, Wrightson
Road, Port-of-Spain, today.
Last Tuesday s 15-hour debate
on the legislation ended at 4.37am
on Wednesday with clause one
of the bill being approved.
It seeks to prevent repeat
offenders from being granted bail
for four months for offences
including rape, kidnapping and
other violent crimes.
It was passed in the House of
Representatives two weeks ago
with the specified government
majority but in the Senate the
Government does not have the
required majority, so votes from
at least four Independents were
required as the six Opposition
members have said they would
not support it.
Many of the Independents
raised concerns about the legis-
lation which was presented by
Attorney General Anand Ramlo-
Co-ordinator of the Independ-
ent bench, Subhas Ramkhelawan,
said the Government must make
amendments to the bill with
respect to the move to deny bail
for the offences. Another Inde-
pendent senator, Helen Drayton,
said one of the most serious
offences, murder, was already a
non-bailable offence but that had
not helped reduce the crime.
Also in the Senate today the
answers to several previously
deferred questions on the order
paper are expected to be provided,
including one from Independent
Senator David Small.
He is asking Energy and Energy
Affairs Minister Kevin Ramnarine
to give the status of the re-organ-
isation and transformation of the
He is also being asked to give
legislators the schedule for the
completion of the restructuring
of his ministry and the benefits
that would accrue from it.
The sitting begins at 1.30 pm.
no to changes
Senate meets in committee
on Bail Bill this afternoon
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