Sunday, January 21, 2018

...Million-dollar constituency fund coming

 The Government’s proposed constituency fund, first mentioned in 2012, is coming in the September 8 budget, Prime Minis­ter Kamla Persad-Bissessar announced yesterday.

Cabinet first gave the green light in August 2012 for a $10 million fund for MPs, to be used directly in the respective constituencies.

Launching the Constitution (Amendment) Bill 2014 in the Senate yesterday at Towed D of the International Waterfront Centre, Port of Spain, Persad-Bissessar said: “I know the Minister of Finance, in his budget, is making provisions for what we are calling a constituency development fund.”

The Prime Minister said that recommendation was made by the Constitution Review Commission and the necessary legislation has been prepared by Attorney General Anand Ramlogan.

Persad-Bissessar first suggested the idea on June 1, 2012, during a Cabinet retreat at the Magdalena Grand Beach Resort in Tobago, and said the Government was reviewing the legislation in Jamaica, where the system was already in place. 

She said yesterday right to recall of MPs proposed in yesterday’s bill has now become more necessary with the implementation of the fund, and while the percentages and other fine points within the mechanisms of the fund can be discussed, there will be the right to recall a non-performing Member of Parliament.

The allocation for each constituency, as was announced in 2012, will be $10 million for 41 MPs.

This will be a $410 million package the Government said in 2012 would be used to provide immediate relief in social development and infrastructure.

Persad-Bissessar said the money will not be placed in the accounts of any MPs, but will pass through local government bodies.

Persad-Bissessar said in 2012 the fund would be made available to all MPs, including Opposition MPs, but Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley had in 2012 denounced the fund as another source of corruption waiting to happen.