Tancoo, Speaker wrangle over ‘geographic discrimination’ talk

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Davendranath Tancoo. File photo/Sureash Cholai

OROPOUCHE West MP Dave Tancoo incurred the wrath of Speaker Bridgid Annisette-George when he seemingly defied her rulings as he accused the PNM of committing geographic discrimination against UNC-controlled local government corporations.

Tancoo eventually heeded Annisette-George’s instructions and apologised to her.

These events played out on Friday as debate continued on a motion to approve a joint select committee report on the Miscellaneous Provisions (Local Government Reform) Bill 2020, in the House of Representatives.

Tancoo rejected an earlier argument by Minister in the Ministry of Finance Brian Manning that the UNC-led People’s Partnership (PP) coalition put local government in the dark ages between 2010 and 2015.

“Nothing could be further from the truth.”

He recalled that a system to appoint aldermen through a proportional representation method was developed under the PP.

“This government has been strangling some corporations but others seem to be doing substantially better,” Tancoo said as he accused the PNM of committing, “intentional or unintentional geographic discrimination.”

Annisette-George advised him to move off this point.

But Tancoo maintained that “large areas in Central and South (Trinidad) seem to be victimised by this government.”

Annisette-George reminded Tancoo of her earlier advice to move on. Tancoo reiterated, “I’m deeply concerned about geographic discrimination.”

Annisette-George replied, “Let’s understand the ground rules.” While all MPs may be passionate about debating certain things, she said, “That is no reason to offend the rules (of Parliament).”

As Tancoo began to argue his case, Annisette-George would have none of it.

“Apologise or you can have a seat. Decide which one it is.”

Tancoo replied, “I am not clear what I am supposed to apologise for.”

Annisette-George replied, ‘I have spoken.”

Tancoo said, “As odd as it seems, I will apologise profusely for what I am not too sure of.”

Later in the sitting, Mayaro MP Rushton Paray claimed the only reason why Government wanted to pass the bill was to implement the collection of property tax. He reiterated the UNC’s claims that to do this at this time “would be a bit draconian and some would say heartless.”

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