Anna-Lisa Paul and Bobie-Lee Dixon
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PM: Local govt elections to be held by October
Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar says local government elections will be held in Trinidad as constitutionally due no later than October this year. Speaking at the Monday night forum of her United National Congress at the Barataria Complex, she said members were now free to nominate prospective candidates for the elections.
The term of local government councillors and aldermen ends on July 26 and a new election must be held within three months of that date. And the PM said the election would be contested as a united People’s Partnership. “We will contest the elections as a partnership. We know that this is your desire and I am committed to fulfilling your dream for unity,” she told the cheering audience.
She added that the PP Government was confident of retaining its 11 municipal corporations and winning the other three, now held by the People’s National Movement. She said after the elections there must be “no secret $60,000-per-month consultancy being danced around after getting caught, no cover-up about the fisticuffs, slaps, violence and cursing in the screening process.”
Those were references to incidents that happened in the THA, involving former finance secretary Anselm London, and an incident at last week’s screening of candidates at the PNM’s Balisier House, Port-of-Spain. Persad-Bissessar dismissed claims by Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley that relations between the United States and T&T were strained.
She quoted a recent release from the US embassy following the extradition of T&T national Doreen Ali. It read in part: “This latest extradition underscores the continuing diplomatic and law enforcement co-operation between both countries.” The PM said she would be in Washington next week for meetings and that relations between the US and T&T remained good.
The Prime Minister also said Cabinet had decided to make it possible for citizens earning less than $8,000 a month to buy their first home, with zero down payment and at a two per cent interest rate for homes up to $450,000. Persad-Bissessar said she was confident good sense would prevail when debate on the Defence Amendment Bill resumed in the Senate on April 23. She said the bill would be approved.
She also said the Government was committed to re-introducing the Capital Punishment (Hanging) Bill. That measure was defeated in 2010 as the Opposition did not give the required support. She also commented on a leaked confidential letter to her from former president George Maxwell Richards on the proclamation of Section 34 of the Administration of Justice (Indictable Proceedings) Act.
Persad-Bissessar said the question was who leaked the document. She denied any attempt was made to dupe Richards, as the Government quickly corrected the error when it was known by repealing the legislation. She said the Roundtable Group, which includes the Movement for Social Justice and the PNM, must be monitored closely. “Keep an eye on them,” she advised her supporters.