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Give bill a chance

SHERRYLYN CLARKE, [email protected]

Give bill a chance

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PORT OF SPAIN – A willingness to give the Constitution (Amendment) Bill, 2014 a chance appears to have come from Martin Daly SC, who said yesterday it will not obliterate smaller, third parties as feared.

The bill was passed on Thursday in the Senate, at Tower D, International Waterfront Centre, Port of Spain, after amendments were made to the controversial run-off provision.

Daly told TV6 News yesterday as a result of the negotiations between Independent senators and Government, there has been an “interesting experiment in constitutional reform”.

The negotiating also helped smooth out flaws in the bill, he said.

He said the intense negotiations during the committee stage of the bill will show the checks and balan­ces in the governance system do work.

“Whatever you think of the concession the Government made, it can’t be said that the bill, which will become an act, will obliterate third parties,” Daly said.

“It’s really the unelected members who have the biggest influence on the process, and I think it worked to our advantage,” Daly said.

Stoking the ire of parts of civil society is the run-off clause in par­tic­ular, which allows for a second go at the polls between the two headers of a constituency.

This clause was not discussed with the public nor, according to former member of the Constitution Reform Commission (CRC) Dr Merle Hodge, with the commission itself.

That commission was chaired by Legal Affairs Minister Prakash Ramadhar, an arrangement viewed by some as slanting the work of the commission from the start.

The other provisions that have caused controversy are proposed two-term limits for prime ministers and the right of recall for MPs.

However, former head of the Public Service Reginald Dumas remained staunch yesterday in his disagreement with Government’s lack of consultation on the run-off clause of the Constitution (Amendment) Bill, 2014. (Trinidad Express)