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T&T Chamber calls for transparency on Section 34
While the T&T Chamber of Industry and Commerce says there was a good intent behind the inter alia of Section 34 of the Administration of Justice Act 2011, it is calling for an immediate and satisfactory explanation for the early proclamation of this Section. It said, “Whether this course of action was done with intent or in error, this issue must not be swept aside and persons should be held accountable for this grievous act.”
In a statement yesterday, the chamber said it is most concern with the lack of transparency with regards to the premature proclamation of Section 34. “Despite the many calls from several quarters for an explanation for this, there still remains no satisfactory explanation by the government on this matter of national concern.” It said the importance of transparency in any government cannot be overemphasised, as it is necessary to build trust between government and the people.
“The recently-released 2012 Global Competitiveness Index (GCI) has shown that T&T continues to decline in rank in several important areas, most notably public trust in politicians, irregular payments and bribes, favouritism in decisions of government officials, and transparency of government policymaking.” Incidents such as the Section 34 controversy, the chamber said, only serve to further exacerbate, both locally and internationally, that lack of trust.
“Bearing in mind, many of the challenges faced by T&T within recent years which have impacted on the country’s competitiveness, have been underpinned by repeating themes of the need for good governance and transparency, particularly by public officials,” read the chamber statement. The business body said it would continue to call for the highest ideals and values of good governance and transparency expected of the Government.
However, the chamber said after careful consideration and observing the developments and discussions regarding the issue, it believes there was good intent behind the Act. “We have always called for a more efficient justice system and we believe that the Act was meant to address the perennial issue of delay in the system and the resultant waste of time and taxpayers’ dollars in a justice system that has not evolved to meet the needs of today’s society.
“But we are calling for an immediate and satisfactory explanation, as the public trust in public officials must be restored, as T&T approaches its next 50 years as a nation.” On Tuesday, Opposition Leader Keith Rowley led a march through the streets of Port-of-Spain to call on the Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar to explain in detail how the proclamation of the controversial Section 34 arose. Over a 48-hour period, the Opposition gathered 25,000 supporting signatures and presented the petition to the Acting President Timothy Hamel-Smith at President’s House.
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