Lower House passes Local Government Validation Bill

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Lower House passes Local Government Validation Bill

Despite one objection from the Opposition, the Municipal Corporations (Extension of Terms of Office and Validation) Bill, 2023, was passed in the House of Representatives on Monday and will now head to the Senate, who sit on Wednesday.

This bill seeks to validate the work of councillors and aldermen whose terms of office expired in December 2022 but continued in office until May 18, 2023.

It also seeks to validate their actions taken or decisions made between December 2, 2022 and May 18, 2023. Additionally, the bill seeks to provide that local government elections for the year 2023 will be held no later than August 18, 2023.

The Attorney General made some amendments to the bill, proposing a new definition for councillors and aldermen: “Councillors and Aldermen mean the persons who serve in the corporate office of the council during the period December 1, 2019, to May 18, 2023”

The MP for Barataria/San Juan, Saddam Hosein, pointed out that the last Local Government Election took place on December 2, 2019, and not the first as outlined in the amendment. Attorney General Reginald Armour accepted the change.

Meanwhile, the UNC strongly objected to Clause 5 on the bill, which would provide for the validation of the actions of the Councillors and Aldermen whose terms expired in December 2022.”

Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar said she believes it was unnecessary, while MP Hosein requested it be deleted altogether.

“We are of the belief that if we are extending the terms of the councillors up until May 18, 2023, what this particular clause does, it now validates the acts of persons in offices that have expired on May 18, 2023, till the commencement date of this law. How can we validate actions where persons or offices have already expired even after the extension?” Hosein asked.

However, Armour rejected Hosein’s proposed amendment, as he said he believed the MP misunderstood Clause Five’s purpose.

“This act does not speak about the future; it seeks to validate two periods; from December 2 to May 18 and the period up to the commencement of the Act. All this amendment is seeking to do by Clause 5 is to give legislative efficacy to the De-facto Doctrine up until this Bill becomes an act of Parliament.”