Monday, January 20, 2014

PM Kamla dares to go where no T&T leader has gone before in proposed constitutional changes in T&T

File: PM Kamla Persad-Bissessar
Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar is delivering on another of her campaign promises - this time, by dealing with recommendations of the constitutional commission headed by legal Affairs Minister Prakash Ramadhar.

Some of the key proposals include term limits for prime ministers, a partially elected senate, fixed election dates and recall of parliamentarians.

The plan is to lay the document in Parliament and then provide thousands of copies to the public to get the widest possible comments on the recommendations.

This is part of the consultative process that the government is keen on. The mandate of the Commission was not to draft a new constitution but to hear the views of the public and then present recommendations. 

Any new constitution will be drafted when there is political consensus on the new constitutional formula.

Some of the recommenddations are far reaching and drastic. If they are accepted and implemented Persad-Bissessar would have made a kind of political change that every other leader wanted but never dared to make.

Here are some of the principal recommednations:
  1. The House of Representatives should continue to be elected as it has been since independence - voters in each geographical constituency electing a representative by the first-past-the-post method
  2. The President should continue to appoint 9 Senators in his/her own discretion. However the remaining members of the Senate should be elected by the Hare method of proportional representation
  3. There should be fixed dates for general elections
  4. Members of the House of Representatives should be subject to the right of recall by their constituents
  5. There should be a limit of 2 consecutive terms for the Office of Prime Minister, with the option of the Prime Minister returning after another person has served a term as Prime Minister
  6. There should be a Deputy Prime Minister, appointed by the President, on the advice of the Prime Minister, from among elected Senators. The Deputy Prime Minister should be a member of the Cabinet
  7. The Director of Public Prosecutions should be awarded an independent fiscal vote to be audited by the Auditor General, whose report should be laid in Parliament
  8. There should be constitutional recognition of local government, as well as provision for fixed dates for local government elections
  9. An office of Contractor General should be created
  10. The Judiciary should be awarded an independent fiscal vote to be audited by the Auditor General, whose report should be laid in Parliament
  11. The issue of Trinidad and Tobago making the Caribbean Court of Justice its final court of appeal should be put to a national referendum

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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