The Opposition PNM will break with tradition to hold its 44th annual convention next month at the Grand Stand of the Queen’s Park Savannah, Port-of-Spain, instead of Chaguaramas Convention Centre, PNM general secretary Ashton Ford said. He said the party was forced to shift its October 28 convention from the traditional venue since it was told the centre was under repair. He said the party had held conventions at Chaguaramas since the late 1960s when he attended as a teenager. He said, however, some special conventions were held in San Fernando and other parts of T&T. “But we have traditionally held annual conventions at the Chaguaramas Convention Centre. This is the first time we are not using there,” Ford said. The Chaguaramas Development Authority’s communications departments said yesterday operations at the centre have been scaled back since it was scheduled for overall upgrade. A spokesman said plumbing and electrical systems were in disrepair and a tender would be issued soon for upgrade work.
PNM MP Colm Imbert said under the UNC Government, sections of the centre were leased out to state and private sector companies so space was not available for the party. He said, “It has also been increasingly difficult to get timely permission from the PP administration to use the centre. “It would also have been difficult (to use) since we usually use all three floors, so it’s just not suitable accommodation for our convention as we are getting bigger and bigger. “The Savannah is a more central location, more easily accessible in and out, with endless parking and accessible, via public transport.” At the top of the convention agenda will be election of new executive officers. Deadline for nominations is 3 pm on October 1 (Budget Day) at Balisier House, Port-of-Spain.
Almost a dozen posts are up for contest, excluding that of political leader held by Dr Keith Rowley, chairman (Franklin Khan), vice chairman (Camille Robinson-Regis) and general secretary (Ford). These posts are for five years. Other executive posts are for two years. Posts being contested and the incumbents are lady vice chairman (MP Donna Cox); public relations officer (Senator Faris Al-Rawi); assistant general secretary (Daniel Dookie); treasurer (Mariano Browne); education officer (Neil Parsanlal); elections officer ( Linus Rogers); field officer (Indar Parasram); labour officer (Jennifer Baptiste-Primus); welfare officer ( Joycelyn Bodden); operations officer (Irene Hinds); youth officers (male—MP Nileung Hypolite and female—Laurel Lezama-Lee Sing).
Ford said while constituencies have mobilised and were on schedule to complete their conferences towards the convention, nominations for the election have been slow. Also a priority on the agenda will be discussion and a vote on recommendations of a report by a team mandated to examine the PNM’s constitution, including feedback and proposals on the one-man/one vote system proposed by Rowley to replace the delegate system. The team was headed by attorney Brigitte Annisette-George. The convention also will deal with the issue of the use of the party’s Balisier tie. There has been mixed feedback on this in the last two years since Rowley proposed limiting the use of the tie in Parliament and expanding its use outside of MPs and other senior PNM members. The PNM will launch its party school initiative, titled “Eric WIlliams Institute”, at QRC College on Monday, Republic Day.