In three weeks time, on August 31, 2012, Trinidad and Tobago will celebrate its 50th anniversary of independence. It is a great time for reflection and celebration of the golden anniversary of our twin island republic. Our nation has come a long way during these five decades and today we have a Westminster system of government with democracy at the heart of this nation and a system of government operations that has served us.
This system of democratic government facilitated our development politically from Crown colony, independent nation and a republic within the British Commonwealth. The Parliament, Judiciary and the Executive are the three arms of government charged with specific roles and responsibilities that function consistent with the separation of powers.
The Legislature comprises MPs who are elected by the people and they are responsible for forming new laws and representing their constituents. The MPs function in Parliament and meet with their constituents to ensure they are represented and served. MPs must seek interventions and services, which are carried out by the government. The government sets policies for operations and facilitates delivery of services to the citizens.
The Executive, the government itself, is responsible for facilitating the day to day running of the country including its judicial system. Operations of the government, however, are not the responsibility of the MPs but the responsibility of the public administration officers in the ministries and local government bodies. These employees are responsible for all goods and services that are delivered, as well as goods and services that are not delivered to the people of the country.
The public administration system is designed for delivery of services in the systems, checks and balances in procurement, human resource recruitment and management, and all other arms of government including our foreign affairs. The audit system of government is a feature of our system which verifies the business of government and compliance with policies and processes required in delivery of services.
The Members of Parliament must regard the proposed Constituency Development Fund, which this UNC government plans to introduce as early as the next parliamentary session, with great suspicion. This fund has been touted to be such a brilliant idea by the Minister of Planning.
The minister is of the view that such a fund, which will be administered by the MPs, would facilitate effective services for constituents in the areas of infrastructure and for special “constituency projects”.
The Cabinet has agreed that each Member of Parliament shall have $10 million and the MP shall be responsible for identifying the areas requiring upgrade and the delivery of the projects. This involves administration, project management, accountability for quality of goods or services and financial accountability. These are not the roles of an MP but the responsibility of the executive through the public services system.
Members of Parliament will be in breach of the separation of powers doctrine a cornerstone of our democratic system.
Our democratic system of government in Trinidad and Tobago has provided us with not only the central government ministries with specific mandates but also local government bodies and the public service, which have a system for procurement and delivery of goods and services for the citizens of our nation.
It is really a retrograde step on this our golden anniversary of independence that we are now forced to operate in a system that will without doubt create serious operations and accountability problems in addition to the risk to safety and security of those being forced to administer these funds. Members of Parliament must be urged to reflect on the oath of office we took and the breach that this system will create for our democratic independent nation.
We need only to research regionally and internationally the unfortunate outcome caused by the introduction this Constituency Development Fund in developing nations such as ours. In our 50th year of independence, we are now risking good governance and accountability for dangerous antisocial community tensions that can lead to mayhem. We cannot afford to accept this questionable CDF. Trinidad and Tobago does not deserve this system of questionable governance which will lead to a host of negative outcomes.
Member of Parliament for Laventille West