Government is not introducing proportional representation in the Local Government system out of fear but in keeping with its promise to deepen democracy for the people, Works Minister Suruj Rambachan has said.
Rambachan, the former local government minister piloted the Municipal Corporations (Amendment) Bill 2013 at the Parliament sitting yesterday.
On Thursday, Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar named Marlene Coudray as the new Local Government Minister.
In his contribution, Rambachan sang praises of the Government’s move to introduce proportional representation in the selection of aldermen in the Local Government elections saying that it was historic and path-breaking.
“This Government is not introducing this amendment out of fear, this Government has kept its pledges to promote democracy,” said Rambachan.
He said the Prime Minister has kept her word to have elections when they are due and come 2015 the general election will also be called when they are due.
Rambachan explained the purpose of the amendment saying that a new method of using proportional representation will be applied to selecting aldermen.
“It is being proposed that the number of aldermen in each corporation will be four and not as currently obtains where in 12 of the corporations you have two aldermen each and in two of the corporations, Port of Spain you have four and San Fernando you have three,” said Rambachan.
He said aldermen will be elected through proportional representation whilst councillors will continue to be elected under the first past the post system.
Rambachan said the people’s voting power will be increased through this new formula.
He said the list of aldermen will be made known at the same time as the councillors who will be nominated.
He added that in this way, a person cannot fail as a councillor and then look to become an alderman.
Rambachan said proportional representation will ensure that the people have more say in the governance process and political parties will now be forced to look at the quality of people whom they would be choosing.
To stress his example of the value an alderman would serve on the corporation through the new system proposed, Rambachan pointed out that at the Port of Spain city corporation there were many “running battles” between former mayor Louis Lee Sing and business interests in the city.
He said under the new method, an alderman of “substance” can be put forward who represents the business sector such as the Downtown Owners and Merchants Association (DOMA) or the Trinidad and Tobago Chamber of Commerce.
Rambachan said in this way, conflict is reduced and there is better representation in a consensus-building atmosphere.