Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Bhoe troubled entire Govt did not back bill

Planning Minister Dr Bhoendra­datt Tewarie said yesterday he was “troubled” Government did not have unanimous support on its own ben­ches for the Constitution (Amendment) Bill 2014 in Parliament.

Speaking to the Express by phone, Tewarie, a Congress of the People (COP) senator, said he personally thinks the provisions of the bill were “reasonable” and he will have no problem supporting it when the bill is debated in the Senate on August 26.

COP Ministers Winston Dookeran and Carolyn Seepersad-Bachan voted against the bill while COP Minister of Social Integration Rodger Samuel abstained from voting. “It troubles me that we did not have full support for the bill within the Government,” said Tewarie as he noted the Prime Minister did allow for a conscience vote.

“I believe that a lot of the diffe­rence of opinion has to do with the tension between run-off on one hand and proportional representation on the other,” said Tewarie. “I don’t think they are necessa­rily in conflict; in the election process, it may be possible to have the Senate elected on the basis of first vote on proportional representation, that would make a certain kind of determination that does not in any way interfere with the run-off provision,” he added.

The minister said the three proposed provisions in the bill are those that can be passed with a simple majority and other legislation to come would deal with refe­rendum and proportional representation, which will require the special-majority vote.

He said the delay of the debate in the Senate till August 26 allows more time for greater clarity and discussion on the provisionsespecially the run-off aspect. “My own feeling is that no one is against having a majority represen­tative from their constituency in the Parliament, and I think a lot of people would appreciate that it balances off the provision that has to do with recall,” he said.