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...Debate at Magdalena Grand tomorrow

By Renuka Singh

Economist Dr Ronald Ramkissoon will act as facilitator during tomorrow's Tobago House of Assembly election debate at Magdalena Grand Hotel, Lowlands, Tobago.

Former head of Trinidad and Tobago Transparency International Victor Hart and economist Hayden Blades are the two questioners chosen to pose questions to the participants drawn from the three participating parties. It begins at 8 p.m.

In a media update yesterday, the Trinidad and Tobago Debates Commission announced that it received confirmation from all three political parties--People's National Movement (Tobago Council), the Tobago Organisation of the People and The Platform of Truth.

Though the idea of the debate was made public early in December, there was no consensus on the moderators until just before 7 p.m yesterday evening.

Chief executive officer of the Trinidad and Tobago Chamber of Commerce Catherine Kumar, who is also the project manager for the debate, said 15 names had already been proposed and rejected by the three parties participating in the Tobago House of Assembly election on January 21 before the final names were decided.

Hart, in a telephone interview, was already preparing for today's debate rehearsal set for 5 pm.

"I have given my consent to put my name forward to the debates. I am optimistic that the debate will come off. I am getting myself ready. I heard my name was one of three that will be featured if the debate goes on as expected," he said.

Blades said he was told that his name was nominated.

"I was approached, but I understand that all the parties are yet to agree on the moderator or moderators," he said.

"There is a lot of preparation to put in place. There has been a lot of to-ing and fro-ing, it's very volatile."

Blades said the Chamber launched the idea for the debate early last month and was still unable to confirm moderators more than three weeks later.

"It is reflective of the nature of politics but people have to put their cards on the table. There is no plausible reason that the parties, if genuinely interested, could not come to an agreement. It is disconcerting," he said.

In a telephone interview, Tobago Organisation of the People leader Ashworth Jack confirmed that those two names were proposed to him and he agreed to both.

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