Youths in the House
By MIRANDA LA ROSE Tuesday, October 30 2012
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PATRICK'S MP: Youth MP for San Fernando East Simeon Moore, sits in the seat usually held by real San Fernando East MP Patrick Manning, yesterday durin...
IT WAS expected. “Government” used its majority in the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) Youth Parliament to approve its motion that called for this country to take all measures to become a full member of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI).
After a full day of debate in the Youth House of Representatives, the vote was 29 in favour and 14 against. Forty-three constituencies were represented.
Among those in the gallery during the morning session and occasionally nodding approval or smiling broadly, as presenters made their point, were Speaker of the House Wade Mark, Minister in the Ministry of Finance Rudy Indarsingh, PNM MPs Nileung Hypolite and Fitzgerald Jeffrey and PNM Senator Faris Al Rawi.
It was obvious that the youth parliamentarians, drawn from secondary schools, the University of the West Indies, University of the Southern Caribbean and other institutions, had researched their topic and were on the ball as they made their points and rebutted.
According to Seon Raymond, Youth MP for Diego Martin Central, he saw no reason why TT should join an institution set up to deal with corruption in Nigeria. Noting that the United Kingdom was instrumental in the setting up of the EITI but, as yet, was not a member, he questioned why should TT want to be subjected to the EITI when it has mechanisms and institutions in place to deal with issues of accountability and transparency.
As he spoke another of his colleagues rose to his feet, but the Youth Speaker Isaiah Eastmond — who was kept busy as representatives referred very often to the Standing Orders, or, for using unparliamentary language — cautioned them that two persons cannot be on their feet at the same time.
According to Nathan Liverpool, Youth Minister of Arts and Multiculturalism, “just as water is essential to life, transparency is essential to Government.” The first thing that came to mind when one thinks about low transparency, he said, was corruption.
Corruption, he said has a detrimental effect on a population resulting in among other things reduced economic growth, distortion in the allocation of resources. It also has a negative effect on the poor in terms of reducing their social safety nets, and bringing them out of poverty.
“(TT) does suffer from corruption,” he said. “We do have a lot of corruption here and it does affect us very negatively.”
To say the EITI was not applicable to TT, Youth Attorney General Lemuel Phillip said, transparency and accountability was not only required at the local level where the Board of Inland Revenue, Integrity Commission and other oversight institutions were in place, but at the international level to protect the country’s assets and to promote confidence in the economy and to boost investments.
Youth MP for Siparia MP and Prime Minister Michelle Roopnarine said the time had come to remove secrecy clause of State-owned companies accounts. “I don’t know why, we have to keep the accounts of the people a secret. The EITI is a tool. It is an investment,” she said, “and the key to a brighter future.”
Leader of the Opposition and Youth MP for Diego Martin West, Jeel Pierre, criticised Government MPs saying they kept repeating the same points and the Parliament does not know how TT will benefit from the EITI. “What we should have been debating,” he said, “was proper procurement legislation instead of debating membership of the EITI.”