Opposition senator Faris Al-Rawi yesterday described the run-off provision of the Constitution Amendment Bill as a thorn between two roses, the roses being the two-term limit for the Prime Minister and the right to recall of a Member of Parliament.
In his contribution to the debate on the bill in the Senate yesterday, Al-Rawi noted that following the release of the Constitutional Reform Commission’s report, two out of the four members of the commission objected to it.
He went on to read into the Hansard comments made by Commission member, Dr Merle Hodge, who a few weeks ago noted that the run-off aspect of the bill was never revealed to the public prior to the Prime Minister’s presentation in the Parliament on August 4.
Al-Rawi added that Government demonstrated an “unwholesome, inveterate untruth to the people” in seeming to suggest that there had been consultation on the postscript to the Commission’s Report that the Prime Minister put forward.
“We’re aware that in a letter you will have a body of a letter and there is a P.S., or postscript, at the bottom on the face of the document which says ‘P.S. I forgot about a few things, please take note of this’. The Prime Minister says this postscript, together with the document, ought to satisfy us that there has been adequate consultation and that we should be comforted that we are ready for this debate,” he said.
“Well, Madam Prime Minister, that would be so if it was that we had unanimity in the very committee which has produced this so-called postscript,” he added.
The Opposition Senator went on to describe the consultation process as illegitimate. “Is the Prime Minister seeking to convince the country that a report which did not contain material information contained in an addendum labelled ‘private and confidential, not for circulation’, sent only to the Prime Minister at the end of July 2, 2014 and that document never having gone to the public, is that proper consultation?”
Meanwhile, Al-Rawi criticised the Prime Minister for dropping a “bombshell” on the nation during her presentation yesterday when she noted that a Constituency Fund would be included in the 2014/2015 budget, to be presented on September 8.
“The constituency fund, when it was first quoted was resisted by PNM as it was a recipe for chaos, scandal and disaster,” he said.
He heavily criticised the Government’s spending, saying that in four years it had gone through 12 to 15 years of spending. “Take 15 years of budget, add them up together in average and this Government has spent that back to back in average,” he said.