Persad-Bissessar: No need for parliamentary intervention in THA impasse

Home*Cover Story*News

Persad-Bissessar: No need for parliamentary intervention in THA impasse

There is no need for Parliamentary intervention to change the law.

That’s the word of Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar as it relates to plans by the Prime Minister to ending the current impasse in the Tobago House of Assembly.

This follows suggestions by the Prime Minister on Wednesday, of amending the existing laws as it contained in the THA Act.

However, Persad-Bissessar said his suggestions for ending the THA impasse are contrary to the existing law of Trinidad and Tobago and contrary to the democratic will of the people of Tobago.

In a release, she wrote:
We do not support the suggestions made by him.
The Prime Minister is totally wrong.
There is no need for Parliamentary intervention to change the law.
There is no need for EBC intervention to change boundaries.
There is no need for fresh elections.
There is no need for the previous Executive Council to remain in office.

The UNC leader said the existing law as contained in the THA Act and the THA Standing Orders is very clear and explicit about what needs to be done in the current situation.
The use of the existing law to break the THA tie will permit a new Executive Council to be appointed thereby ensuring that the democratic will of the people is respected. In this way public money can be spent in accordance with the democratic will of the people by a new Executive Council of the THA as opposed to the previous Executive Council of the THA.

She said “The government I led amended the Standing Orders of the House of Representatives to provide for a tie breaker in the election of the presiding officer of the House, namely, the Speaker.
Standing Order 4 (10) of the 2015 House of Representatives Standing Order provides:
“If after the holding of a ballot referred to in paragraph (9) of this Standing Order the votes remain equal, the Clerk must determine by lot which candidate is to be eliminated.”
*{Please see full legal provisions below}

Persad-Bissessar said “It is imperative that the Prime Minister and the Cabinet follow the current law as set out in the THA and House of Representatives Standing Orders. To do otherwise would be to subvert the will of the people of Tobago.

There is precedent for breaking an equality of votes. Under the then law, at different times, the Siparia local government body and, Mayaro determined a tie by lot.
In addition, it is imperative that, if any amendments are to be made to the law, there must be consultation with the people of Tobago.
She said “The UNC will not accept any piecemeal legislation brought to Parliament without consultation and agreement by all parties, that respects the will of the people.”

“While the UNC did not contest the THA election we have a Parliamentary duty to ensure that the House of Representatives is not misused and abused in any manner that is inconsistent with the rule of law and good governance in our Republic.
In this present circumstance, it is not for the Prime Minister and his Cabinet to dictate the affairs of Tobago. It is for the Clerk of the Tobago House of Assembly and the Clerk alone to follow the law and parliamentary provisions already established to resolve this deadlock in Tobago.
The Prime Minister must respect the existing law and do what is in the best interest of the people of Tobago. ”