Last update: 09-Dec-2013 11:04 am
Monday, December 09, 2013
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
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EBC order puts extra seats in Couva, Princes Town
The Elections and Boundaries order which provoked heated debate in Parliament last Friday, changes internal boundaries in Port-of-Spain, Chaguanas, Arima, Mayaro and Point Fortin, and increases seats in the UNC-controlled Couva/Tabaquite/Talparo and Princes Town corporations. This was confirmed by both PNM MP Colm Imbert and Works Minister Suruj Rambachan. The draft order which was laid in Parliament last Friday increases the number of local government seats from 134 to 136. It involves boundary changes for the several districts and seat additions of one each in Couva and Princes Town corporations. Presentation of the EBC order caused the Government to come under stiff fire from the Opposition PNM and ILP leader Jack Warner. They took the Government to task for bringing the document for debate “late...like a thief in the night.” Both sides had been focused on debating the proportional representation bill that day.
Imbert said the EBC changed internal boundaries in almost half the corporations and left the other half untouched. He said internal boundaries were changed for six out of the eight seats in Chaguanas, in two Port of-Spain seats, five Arima seats, three Point Fortin seats and two Mayaro seats. He said the Couva corporation which had 13 seats now has 14 and the Princes Town corporation which had nine before, now has ten. “This order may very well change the outcome of the local government poll since a change of boundaries can affect the first-past-the-post system which is being retained for election of councillors,” Imbert said. “Changes in Chaguanas, for instance, may be significant since there’s PNM support in Enterprise, so this could strengthen or weaken PNM seats—we have to see. “The other problem with the laying of this report at this time is that Government had it since 2011 and it might change the demographic of an area.
“But we’ve only now been told about it after parties screened and selected candidates and started campaigning.”
Asked how the changes affected the PP, Rambachan said yesterday: “It doesn’t really. We hold control of 11 corporations and we’ll campaign based on our performance. It’s an open contest.”
“There’s one more seat added to Couva/Talparo /Tabaquite corporation area and one more added to the Princes Town corporation. Both areas are controlled by the UNC, so we’ll do the work we have to.” Rambachan spoke yesterday after opening bridges in Sangre Grande. He said a record 62 bridges were built in one year and work would soon start on the Valencia bypass and Trincity and Claxton Bay bridges. PNM whip Marlene McDonald said she couldn’t respond immediately on how the order would affect PNM. She said: “We’re more concerned about the fact that the EBC handed the order to Government since June 2011 and they kept it under wraps since then, so it seems there’s an ulterior motive on their part.”
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