The announcement came after a meeting of the National Security Council held at the Office of the Prime Minister, St Clair, yesterday morning.
There was no word on the length of time for which the extension of the state of emergency would be sought but the House of Representatives may approve an extension by as much as three months in the first instance by way of simple majority, potentially taking the emergency period to as far as December.
A further extension, of no more than three months, may thereafter be approved by way of simple majority in the House. Thereafter, extensions require three-fifths majorities from both the House of Representatives (where the Government has 29 of the 41 seats) and the Senate (where Government Senators are assumed to control 15 seats, Independents, nine, and Opposition, six).
The Prime Minister made an announcement as she addressed a gathering at a WASA event yesterday afternoon at Diggity Trace, Clarke Road, Penal.
“We are considering and indeed we will extend the state of emergency,” she told guests at the event, which included Public Utilities Minister Emmanuel George, and chairman of the Penal Debe Regional Corporation Premchand Sookoo. She said the curfew hours would also be reviewed.
“What we want is to reconsider the curfew hours as advised by the national security team, the joint forces,” she said. “We may want to take your advice in terms of reducing the curfew hours so that there could be more normal business, but at the same time allow the protective services to do their job with the curfew hours and of course the state of emergency throughout the land.”
In relation to the proclamation of the state of emergency, Section 10 of the Constitution notes that: “10 (1) Before its expiration the proclamation may be extended from time to time by resolution supported by a simple majority vote of the House of Representatives, so however that no extension exceeds three months and the extensions do not in the aggregate exceed six months.”
“(2) The proclamation may be further extended from time to time for not more than three months at any one time, by a resolution passed by both Houses of Parliament and supported by the votes of not less than three-fifths of all the members of each House.”
The Proclamation may be revoked at any time by a resolution supported by a simple majority vote of the House of Representatives.
The Parliament is to debate the emergency this Friday in a sitting for which all 29 Government MP s have been warned to be prepared. The Government could, on Friday, table a motion calling for an extension of the state of emergency, which would have to be passed by a simple majority.
Newsday understands that the Government is considering a shortening of the 9 pm to 5 am curfew hours to 11 pm to 5 am, pursuant to feedback from members of the business community.
It is understood that the State is considering a request made by businessmen at a special closed- door meeting between representatives of the business community and Minister of Trade and Industry Stephen Cadiz last Thursday at which business stakeholders expressed support for the state of emergency.
Cadiz held a meeting at his ministry’s offices in Port-of-Spain with representatives of the Trinidad and Tobago Chamber of Commerce, the Trinidad and Tobago Manufacturers Association (TTMA), the Downtown Owners and Merchants Association, and business chambers from Princes Town, San Juan and Tunupuna.
Also at the meeting were representatives from the Police Service and Eteck, which has facilities and business parks at Point Fortin and throughout the country.
Newsday understands that business stakeholders expressed support for the state of emergency but urged the Government to end curfew hours as soon as possible.
“The curfew has an effect on business, especially the hospitality industry,” Cadiz said yesterday speaking with Newsday ahead of the weekly meeting of the Finance and General Purposes Committee of Cabinet. “But they understood the need for this measure. Everybody was supportive of what was being done but noted that there is going to be economic fallout. All that they asked is that the curfew be reviewed as soon as possible.”
Newsday understands that businessmen have asked the State to consider pushing the 9 pm to 5 am curfew back to a start time of 11 pm. The curfew is in place in six local government areas.
“The main issue is really the curfew start time,” one person who was at the meeting said. “But generally there was positive feedback on this state of emergency.”
“Even in my constituency small businesses are all very supportive of this,” Cadiz, the Chaguanas East MP, said.
The Minister said the decision to open ports in at Port-of-Spain and at Point Lisas on Saturday came after concerns were expressed at last Thursday’s meeting. The ports are to open on Saturdays from 7 am to 7 pm to compensate for the curtailment of opening times during the week in light of the curfew hours.
“We took a decision to extend the hours of the port based on the feedback we got from all of the chambers of commerce,” Cadiz said.