Friday, January 4, 2013

Government can pass Tobago self government bill without PNM support

Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar assured the people of Tobago on Sunday night that all 29 members of the People's Partnership would vote in favour a bill to give self government to Tobago. 

She promised that the bill would be introduced in Parliament on January 7, 2013 with debate starting on January 16. 

It requires a two thirds majority in each of the Houses of Parliament to pass. And she challenged the opposition to support it.

The measure would pass in the House of Representatives where all 29 Partnership MPs are expected to support the legislation. 

The Speaker would seek a division, which is a voice vote that requires each member to indicate his or her vote while being seated in the House as the Clerk calls each MP by name. 

If debate begins as scheduled it could end within two days, probably by January 18. Two thirds of the House is 28 so even if one government MP is missing it can pass in the Lower House.

The opposition would have the option of supporting the bill, voting against it or abstaining. No matter which choice they make it appears that it will pass at that stage.

The bill then goes to the Senate. Given the parliamentary schedule that would happen AFTER the January 21 Tobago House of Assembly (THA) election.

In effect, what would happen at the Lower House level is that the PNM would have to make a statement one way or another BEFORE the crucial vote in Tobago.

At the Senate level the government only has a simple majority of 16 members, with nine independents and six opposition members.

In order to get the bill to pass in the Upper House the Government would require the votes of at least six of the nine independent Senators as they would already have 15 Partnership senators on the floor of the Senate who can vote for the Bill. 

Political Scientist Dr Hamid Ghany told JYOTI, "The independent senators together with the Government senators will be the ones ultimately to decide whether Tobago gets internal self-government or not if the PNM is opposed to the Bill or abstains on it at the final vote."

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Jai & Sero

Jai & Sero

Our family at home in Toronto 2008

Our family at home in Toronto 2008
Amit, Heather, Fuzz, Aj, Jiv, Shiva, Rampa, Sero, Jai