PORT OF SPAIN – The new system of local government,
triggered by the introduction of proportional representation, is
creating some confusion.
This is because the deadlines and time-frames for getting
corporations up and running, which were set out in the previous
Municipal Corporations Act, have been removed.
This situation, coupled with the deadlock in Chaguanas, led to
the postponement of the swearing-in ceremony for councillors
for the Chaguanas Borough Corporation, which was originally
scheduled for Friday.
The ceremony has been temporarily called off as the Ministry
of Local Government seeks legal advice on the deadlock
in that corporation.
There is no time frame for the first meeting of the councils
under the new municipal corporation law. The law simply requires
that the business at that first meeting includes the taking of the
oath of office of the councillors.
There is also no time frame under the new law for the
declaration of the aldermen by the Elections and Boundaries
Commission. The law simply says that such persons take the oath
after the declaration is made.
PNM general secretary Ashton Ford told the Express yesterday
that on Monday, the party’s representatives had received
invitations for a Friday swearing-in ceremony. But, he said, the
party was informed yesterday this was to be rescheduled and an
apology given for the postponement.
Previous Chaguanas mayor Orlando Nagessar confirmed that
the CEO of the Chaguanas Corporation had “temporarily” set
aside Friday for the swearing-in of the eight councillors.
“But they are awaiting word from the Ministry of Local
Government. I believe they (the Ministry) have sought legal advice
on how to handle the situation. So they are waiting on that.
Furthermore, they have not yet received results from the EBC (for
the list of aldermen). Up to this afternoon (at 3 p.m.) the CEO told
me that the results from the EBC have not been received.”
He said, hopefully, there would be results today and there
would therefore be some idea of when the councillors would be
sworn in, as well as when the Council could meet to elect a mayor
and a deputy mayor.
The Chaguanas Corporation is spLit between the PNM, UNC
and ILP, with each party having four members on the Corporation
once it is fully constituted.
Legal sources have explained that if no mayor is elected, the
current mayor (Nagessar) stays in office until the deadlock is
Nagessar laughed when told that after saying goodbye to the
Corporation, he may be there for the “long haul”.
“That is in the act.”
He said he hoped there is a solution (to the impasse) so that
the new corporation can continue the work of
the last corporation.
It is understood that the Ministry of Local Government is
seeking advice from senior counsel Dana Seetahal on the options
for dealing with the deadlock in Chaguanas.
Seetahal, when contacted by the Express, said she could not
provide any information.
“It would be for the client to disclose anything. I could not
possibly disclose anything like that,” she said.
Commenting on the matter, Opposition Leader Dr. Keith
Rowley said he did not know what they are doing down