Sinanan: Constitution reform advisory committee hard at work

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Chairman of the Constitution reform advisory committee and former speaker of the House of Representatives Barendra Sinanan, SC, right, pictured with President Christine Kangaloo. – File photo by Roger Jacob

THE advisory committee appointed last month to develop terms of reference for a national consultation on constitutional reform in June, is on target to fulfill its mandate.

Committee chairman, former speaker Barendra Sinanan, SC, made this comment on Friday.In a Whatsapp response to questions from Newsday, Sinanan said, “We must submit our report by June in order to facilitate a national consultation/conference in that same month.

He added, “Our main mandate is to obtain proposals and ideas from the widest cross section of the population and to distill same into terms of reference for the national consultation in June.”Since its appointment, the committee has been hard at work.

Sinanan said, “We have been doing a lot of work in the background before going public which we would be doing shortly.”

The committee, he continued, has been reviewing all work done in the past identifying people and entities who it can request proposals from with respect to defining the parameters for the national consultation.

While the window for the committee to complete its work is short, Sinanan was confident the committee will fulfill its mandate in the time allocated to it to do so.

“I do have members who are up to the task very capable and public-spirited.”

Other members of the committee are former speaker Nizam Mohammed, former Central Bank deputy governor Dr Terrence Farrell, former Tobago House of Assembly chief administrator Raye Sandy, former clerk of the House Jacqui Sampson-Meiguel, former Public Service Commission chairman and permanent secretary in the Agriculture Ministry Winston Rudder and accountant Hema Narinesingh.

The Prime Minister announced the creation of this committee and the national consultation on constitutional reform, at a news conference at the Office of the Prime Minister, St Clair, on January 18.

Dr Rowley believed it was an appropriate time to evaluate, amend and generally upgrade the Constitution, as many people had called for it.

“What Cabinet approved as an advisory committee to formulate the terms of reference and to make recommendations to Cabinet within three months of its appointment for the promoting and convening of a national constitutional conference and consultation in June of 2024, taking into consideration the diverse nature of our national society, its historical evolution, and the progress made in nationhood since attaining independence and republican status, and matters related thereto.”

He said the committee should incorporate and outline the parameters of the subject matter for national debate and the engagement of the widest cross-section of persons and bodies representing the citizenry, including the diaspora.

“These are not people being asked to craft a constitution. They are simply being asked to facilitate and advance a national discourse on the subject and to be the sounding board, the post office, into which any and all interested parties, agencies (and) organisations will want to put their views to this facility advisory committee.”

He said the committee members will get the support and resources to conduct open consultations and collate and draft a working document for the constitutional conference in June, where proposed amendments will be discussed.