Friday, January 19, 2018

Have no fear

PM on constitutional reform:


Eid greetings: Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, centre, greets members of the Muslim community during an Eid-ul-Fitr dinner at the Diplomatic Centre, St Ann’s, on Thursday. See Page 9. —Photo: CURTIS CHASE

Mark Fraser

Be not afraid.

That’s the advice to the population from Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar on the current controversy over proposed constitutional reform.

Speaking at the annual Eid-ul-Fitr dinner at the Prime Minis­ter’s official residence in St Ann’s on Thursday night, Persad-Bissessar said the political reform to be tabled in Parliament on Monday did not come “like a thief in the night”, but was part of her Government’s promise since before taking office in 2010.

“Be not afraid,” Persad-Bissessar said.

The Prime Minister has laid the Constitution (Amendment) Bill in Parliament which would see the right of recall for MPs, a two-term limit for prime ministers and a run-off poll for MPs, which Persad-Bissessar said will ensure elected MPs represent the majority of a constituency.

She said the proposals, which are expected to be passed and become law with a simple majo­rity, were formed after the extensive work of the Constitution Commission during its reform consultations with the public.

The commission was chaired by Legal Affairs Minister Prakash Ramadhar.

The initial report of the commission was prepared and submitted to the Government in December 2013, but was deferred as Ramadhar had asked for more time to conduct consultations and receive feedback.

The final report was submitted in April this year and then to Cabinet in July, where the recom­mendations were considered.

The move was touted on Thursday by the Prime Minister as a tool to put power into the hands of the people. “This will place more power in your hands,” Persad-Bissessar said. “You have nothing to fear.”