UNC leader queries possible delay of local govt polls

Tuesday, May 28, 2019 - 08:30

Gov­ern­ment must clar­i­fy if a pro­pos­al in the lo­cal gov­ern­ment re­form bill — which seeks to ex­tend coun­cil­lor terms from three to four years — is a "back door" way to post­pone lo­cal gov­ern­ment elec­tions.

Op­po­si­tion Leader Kam­la Per­sad-Bisses­sar called for clar­i­fi­ca­tion at last night's UNC Mon­day Night Fo­rum at Diego Mar­tin North Sec­ondary School.

She not­ed that the Mis­cel­la­neous Pro­vi­sions (Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment Re­form) Bill 2019 was laid in Par­lia­ment last Fri­day night and ex­pressed con­cern about clause three (c) of the Bill which she not­ed seeks to vary the term of coun­cil­lors from the cur­rent three-year pe­ri­od to four years.

Not­ing that T&T is on the eve of a lo­cal gov­ern­ment poll, she queried if this was a back door way to post­pone the elec­tion.

"They know they can't win lo­cal gov­ern­ment elec­tions and they are find­ing a back door way to ex­tend it," she said.

She said if that hap­pens the lo­cal gov­ern­ment poll may not hap­pen un­til 2021.

How­ev­er, she said the pro­pos­al was a sub­ven­tion of democ­ra­cy.

She point­ed out that the UNC gained ground in the 2016 Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment Elec­tion and the 2017 by-elec­tion.

Per­sad-Bisses­sar said Gen­er­al Elec­tion is due in 2020 and the Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment Elec­tions are due be­tween No­vem­ber 28 and Feb­ru­ary 2020 for the lat­est.

She ex­pressed con­cern that the pro­pos­al in the bill can put two of the elec­tions in the same pe­ri­od.

Per­sad-Bisses­sar said the gov­ern­ment should have pro­posed a more eq­ui­table dis­tri­b­u­tion of re­sources among all re­gion­al cor­po­ra­tions. She said she in­tends to file a con­sti­tu­tion­al mo­tion on that is­sue.

 - by Gail Alexander