8th Sitting of the House of Representatives
1st Session - 11th Republican Parliament
The Speaker of the House granted leave of absence to the Member of Parliament for Barataria/San Juan, the Hon. Dr Fuad Khan from today’s sitting. Dr. Bhoendradatt Tewarie, Member of Parliament for Caroni Central, was granted leave of absence from sittings for the period November 15th – 21st, 2015.
The Member of Parliament for Chaguanas West raised a petition on behalf of Mr. Kent Samlal, an Attorney-at-Law who is seeking judicial review in matters of the violation of Constitutional Rights. Leave was granted and the petitioner allowed to proceed.
93 Papers were laid. See the Order Paper for details.
Six urgent Questions were posed and answered. Questions were posed to the Minister of Finance (1), the Minister of Health (1), the Minister of Education (3) and the Minister of National Security (1).
Through the Attorney General, the Cabinet of Trinidad and Tobago acknowledged its responsibility to Trinidad and Tobago to achieve effective systems to address the threat of money laundering, the financing of terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction in keeping with the duties of members of the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF). Trinidad and Tobago is a founding member of CFATF and is the incoming chair of CFATF and the Host Nation of CFATF’s Secretariat.
Highlighting the plague of crime in Trinidad and Tobago, the Attorney General emphasized that witnesses of crimes do not step forward due to fear of victimization. He observed that there are currently no mechanisms or institutions in place to protect such persons should they choose to step forward. As such, the Government introduced the Whistleblower Protection Bill in order to allow exposure of corrupt activities through the Integrity Commission and to protect such persons from victimization. The Whistleblower Protection Bill is a hybrid of a similar bill already enforced in Malta, Jamaica and Malaysia. The Attorney General highlighted the outcomes of this bill.
In addition, the Hon. Faris Al-Rawi stated that the Ministry of the Attorney General will be publishing legislative agenda within weeks of the current review being completed so the nation will be informed and have a clear line of sight of what will be happening. He also indicated that there will be the appointment of the Commissioner of Police no later than the end of November 2015.
The Minister of Finance spoke to Procurement Reform in his statement today. He mentioned, in particular, that the amendments to the Bill will address issues such as the awarding of contracts, the establishment of a high level review board to allow for redress within a short time period and the disposal of state land.
The Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Property (Amendment) Bill, 2015, in the name of the Minister of Finance, was referred to the Joint Select Committee for evaluation and reporting in two months.
The Whistleblower Protection Bill, 2015, in the name of the Minister of National Security was referred to the Joint Select Committee for evaluation and reporting.
The House of Representatives agreed upon the appointment of members to the following Committees / Joint Select Committees: Public Accounts Committee, Public Accounts (Enterprises) Committee, Public Administration and Appropriations (JSC), Parliamentary Broadcasting (JSC), Government Assurances (JSC), National Security (JSC), Energy Affairs (JSC), Foreign Affairs (JSC), Human Rights, Equality and Diversity (JSC). Also appointed were Joint Select Committees for the two bills that were introduced.
The House adjourned to a date to be fixed. The sitting ended at 3:10 p.m.