Kamla Persad-Bissessar SC MP, Opposition Leader and Member of Parliament for Siparia, during the UNC's virtual meeting on Monday 31 January 2022. (Image courtesy the UNC)
RENUKA SINGH

Opposition Leader, Kamla Persad-Bissessar SC MP, has signalled her intention to take legal action against Rural Development Minister, Senator Kazim Hosein, for “hiding” the Boundary Report for the Local Government Elections.

Speaking at the United National Congress’ Monday Night Forum, Persad-Bissessar said she understands that Hosein had that report since June last year.

“Why are you hiding that report minister? You have to bring that Boundary Report to the House and lay it!” she said.

“You are in breach of the law by continuing to hide that Boundary Report. Is it because there are substantial boundary changes? You are giving yourself an unfair advantage by hiding that Boundary Report not only from the UNC, but all other persons who are interested in contesting the Local Government Elections,” the Opposition Leader said.

“If you don’t want to lay the Report on your own, we will go to Court to get a Court Order for you to bring that Boundary Report,” Persad-Bissessar stated.

She called on Hosein to lay the report by Friday in Parliament.

Persad-Bissessar said that the Government came to Parliament with simple majority laws to keep extending the life of the Local Government Councils.

“It was when I became PM in 2010, I called the Local Government Elections in July 2010, after the PNM refused to after years. Then under this Rowley PNM Government, the same thing happened,” she said.

“We had to send Pre-Action Protocol letters for the calling of Two Bye-Elections in 2018 after the Councillors had died in Barataria and Belmont.

She called on Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley to call the elections.

“It was only after I sent a Pre-Action Protocol Letter, they were forced to call the elections,” she said.

The UNC is contesting a bye-election in Debe South on Monday and Persad-Bissessar claimed victory already.

“Rowley PNM refused to give the people a voice in this country. Stifling your right to vote. It is a trend that we had to threaten to take them to Court for people to exercise their franchise to vote,” she said.

Persad-Bissessar said Local Government Councils will come to an end in December this year.

“Before, the elections are called, the EBC will prepare a Boundary Report, which is sent to the Minister of Local Government. The Minister then, under the law, must lay that report in the House of Representatives for it to be debated and approved,” she explained.

“Why is that Report important? It will set out the boundaries for the seats in the Corporations,” she said.

NIB leadership change

Persad-Bissessar also weighed in on the changeover of chairmanship at the National Insurance Board (NIB).

Guardian Media reported on Sunday that a former Government representative on the NIB board would not be taking over the helm of the NIB, despite the NIB Act calling for an independent chairman.

“Under the law, the NIB is required to prepare an annual report of the operations, performance and financials of the Bank. They have until September each year to give that Report to the Minister of Finance. The Minister of Finance then must lay that Report in the Parliament no later than November of that year. The last two reports 2019 and 2020, the Minister of Finance hid,” she said.

“We had to go to court for these Reports. I understand the matter is still before the Court,” she said.

Persad-Bissessar said when the court granted leave to sue the Minister of Finance: “He ran to Parliament the same day and laid the Reports for 2019 and 2020.”

“Now we are in the same position again. The Report for 2021 is being hidden,” Persad-Bissessar said.

She said that the Minister again is in breach of the law.

“He had to lay the 2021 Report in November last year. We are now entering February 2022 and he has not brought that Report to the Parliament,” she said.

“You see those Reports tell us how many people are unemployed every year. It will tell us if the Government is paying the NIS contributions for Government workers.  It will tell us if they are owing the NIS any penalties and interest for not making contributions for Government workers,” she explained.

“Minister stop hiding! I am not afraid to take you to court. It is unacceptable that we must take these Cabinet Ministers to Court for them to do their work,” Persad-Bissessar said yesterday.