THE Congress of the People (COP) wants next Monday's national budget to include funds for the Ministry of Legal Affairs to facilitate the process of constitutional reform.
The members of the party's executive met with Finance Minister Larry Howai yesterday at the Finance Ministry's offices in Port of Spain to present the COP's budget recommendations.
The COP is the second-largest member of the People's Partnership coalition government.
Other major issues the party wanted Howai to consider included:
– Clarity on the Land and Building Tax to make sure any reintroduction would be in an equitable matter
– Adequate resources to the Ministry of National Security to tackle crime
– Proper funding to the judiciary in order to obtain the necessary physical and human infrastructure to ease the backlog in the criminal justice system
– The creation of a National Social Compact to deal with wages, prices and productivity.
"There has been a lot of spending regarding resolving the CLICO situation (in previous budgets). That has been resolved... Now we need focus and serious dialogue with the population... to get targeted social development and not just value for money," COP secretary for education and research Clyde Weatherhead said during a press briefing at the Ministry of Finance following the meeting
The COP was confident that its concerns will be met, as Howai assured the party was not too late in its submissions, chairman Joseph Toney said.
"There are COP ministers in the Cabinet and they would have submitted their own proposals in line with the (party's) manifesto. (This was) sort of an overarching meeting but ever since, our ministers would have been pushing the mandate," the party's northwest regional representative Rudolph Harnamji added.
Toney said he supported the proposal to give MPs $10 million to use as they see fit in their constituencies.
"I don't see a problem with it because I have been an MP myself and I know there are instances where sometimes you need to ensure people get help very quickly and the bureaucracy takes a very long time. But I would believe and insist there be proper accountability for taxpayers' funds," he said.