Government MPs slam UNC inequity claims for corporations

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Minister of Planning and Development and MP for Arima Pennelope Beckles at the Red House. – JEFF K MAYERS

PLANNING Minister Pennelope Beckles, Communications Minister Symon De Nobriga, Sport and Community Minister Shamfa Cudjoe rejected claims from the Opposition UNC about inequity and geographic discrimination.

They made their respective statements during debate on a joint select committee report on the Miscellaneous Provisions (Local Government Reform) Bill 2020, in the House of Representatives on Friday.

Referring to earlier claims by Oropouche West MP Dave Tancoo about UNC local government corporations being starved for funding, Beckles, who is also Arima MP, said, “This is absolutely false.”

She added it was not correct to say that funding was based purely on the size of a local government corporation.

Referring to her own constituency and the Borough of the Arima, Beckles reminded MPs that there was a mix of rural and urban areas. She also said there were differences between managing the affairs of a borough, city and a region. But regardless of those differences, Beckles said, “All burgesses are important.”

Communications Minister Symon de Nobriga said, “I wonder about the shenanigans of the members opposite (UNC),” While the legislation may not be a panacea for all local government’s ills, he added, “It is as perfect as it can be.”

De Nobriga said that as a former councillor and chairman of the Diego Martin Regional Corporation, he knew first-hand what those ills were. He wondered why the UNC was afraid of local government reform.

De Nobriga believed the UNC’s resistance to local government reform was a continuation of its strategy “to come to the House and play victim.”

Cudjoe, who is also Tobago West MP, said the benefits which Trinidad would receive from local government reform would be similar to those that Tobagonians enjoy under the Tobago House of Assembly (THA).

She agreed with Beckles that needs differ between local government corporations. “What is good for Penal may not be good for Port of Spain.”

Debate on the motion was adjourned to April 20 at 1.30 pm.

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