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Rowley to focus heavily on campaign finance reform

COREY CONNELLY Sunday, July 16 2017

PRIME Minister Dr Keith Rowley wants to pass campaign finance legislation in the Parliament before the end the People’s National Movement’s (PNM’s) term in office.

So said PNM chairman Franklin Khan, yesterday, as he weighed in on one of the topics for discussion in Tuesday’s meeting between Rowley and Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar.

Speaking with reporters after the party’s general council meeting at Balisier House, Port of Spain, Khan said Rowley spoke comprehensively about the issue and was adamant that it must be debated and passed in the Parliament before the PNM’s term ends.

“Historically, in Trinidad, parties talk campaign finance reform when they are in Opposition and when they get into Government, they drop it like a hot potato,” Khan said. “This is the first time, under Dr Rowley’s leadership, we have articulated our position on campaign finance reform and he has put it on the front burner as one area in which he wants to definitely accomplish before the end of the first term.” PNM public relations officer Stuart Young said when the PNM assumed office in 2015, the Office of the Attorney General hosted an international forum where several countries, including Jamaica, Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom, were invited to participate.

“So, we have already begun the process,” Young said, adding the Government was already looking at draft legislation.

“We, as a party and Government are prepared to take the legislation to Parliament and to to pass it as we can in this term.” Campaign finance legislation is among a slew of issues on the agenda at Tuesday’s highly-anticipated meeting.

However, Khan said given the fact that yesterday’s meeting dealt with matters relating to the general council, Rowley also chose to focus on two other issues namely self-government for Tobago and a code of conduct for parliamentarians.

Tuesday’s meeting will also address anti-gang legislation, matters pertaining to the Judiciary, performance of service commissions and the Integrity Commission.

“These are legislative issues that require a special majority,” Khan said. “So it is incumbent on the prime minister as the leader of the Government to engage the opposition leader early in the game to discuss and to see if some consensus can be reached on these very, very important national issues.”

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