Sunday 29 November, 2020

10 highlights from the PM’s meeting with the Opposition Leader

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley addresses the media at a briefing following a three-hour long meeting with the Opposition Leader on Tuesday

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley addresses the media at a briefing following a three-hour long meeting with the Opposition Leader on Tuesday

A three hour meeting between Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley and Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar on a number of matters of national interest led to discussions that went “very well”.

At a media briefing following the meeting, the Prime Minister gave a “brief report” on those discussions.

Here's a quick breakdown of what was discussed:

1. Internal self-governance for Tobago: It was agreed by both the Prime Minister and Opposition leader that existing draft legislation could be sent by Cabinet before a Committee comprising members of Government and the Opposition which would reexamine the issue and conduct required consultations with the people of Tobago.

2. Campaign finance reform: Both parties agreed to work toward enacting campaign finance reform legislation before the next General Election. The Prime Minister said it would be treated as a matter of urgency.

3. Anti-gang legislation: Anti-gang and bail legislations will be brought back to the Parliament, with consultations with the Opposition to take place before that.

4. Crime: Government will provide the Opposition with an update on the efforts being made in the fight against crime. It was also agreed that the Attorney General’s Office would draft legislation to be put to the Opposition for consideration to repeal and replace the current legislation regarding the appointment of a Police Commissioner.

5. Problems facing the Judiciary: A legislative solution was proposed to remedy the problems created by the appointment and subsequent resignation of Marcia Ayers-Caesar as a Supreme Court Judge, however, no agreement could be reached on the impasse.

6. Service Commissions: It was determined that a review of service commissions is necessary to determine what changes might be necessary to improve its role in the management of the country’s affairs. The Opposition Leader agreed to seeking assistance from the Canadian government on treating with this item.

7. Integrity Commission: The Prime Minister indicated that a review of the IC is needed, as he said the public has lost confidence in the Commission as an institution. It was proposed that other models be looked at to bring about results the IC was originally intended to create.

8. Code of Conduct for Parliamentarians: In striving for “better conduct” in Parliament, the Prime Minister proposed that legislation be brought, looking to models adopted elsewhere in the Commonwealth, which the Opposition Leader agreed to.

9. Jobs and the Economy: Government will proceed with reform of the Severance Benefits Act, and job security will be maintained for as long as is possible while fighting to increase revenue to maintain the country’s “lifestyle”.

10. Couva Children’s Hospital: It’s anticipated that the hospital will be opened in the “not too distant future”. The Prime Minister indicated that the delay in the opening of the facility is largely due to a lack of “awe inspiring” proposals from private entities for the management of the hospital.  

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