After months of anticipation, the coalition Government will finally be moving to have the Constitutional Reform and Consultative Bill laid in the National Assembly before the parliamentary recess in August.
A statement from Director of the Government Information Agency, Imran Khan, said that this decision was taken on Tuesday during the weekly Cabinet meeting. Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo chaired Tuesday’s meeting among the Council of Ministers.
“The coalition Government views the laying of the Constitutional Reform and Consultative Bill in the National Assembly as a major advancement in the process towards constitutional reform,” the statement from Government said.
In August last year, Government had established a Constitutional Reform Steering Committee (CRSC), headed by Attorney Nigel Hughes, who had compiled and submitted a report to Prime Minister Nagamootoo in April last year. That report is yet to be made public. However, over the past months, the process of the drafting and review of the bill was ongoing.
Nagamootoo had told reporters at a press conference last year that he wanted to consult with the parliamentary Opposition on the content of the Bill, as he would like to have full support for its passage. He noted that the Bill is not controversial as he himself has reworked it based on the previous Constitution Reform Bill, as process which he was involved in since 1996.
Constitutional reform was a hot topic during the 2015 General and Regional Elections campaign, with the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) coalition promising to undertake the task. As part of the reform process, Government had touted major changes to the governance structure, including separate elections to elect a President and National Assembly members; the capping of presidential powers; and changes to the composition of service commissions, among others.
The Constitutional Reform Steering Committee that was established will be responsible for effecting the changes to the Constitution when Government finalises its decision on the reforms.
The Committee, which comprised of former Director of Transparency International and Attorney Gino Persaud, Professor Harold Lutchman, former Magistrate Geeta Chandan-Edmond, and was chaired by attorney and former AFC Executive Member Nigel Hughes, was established by the Sub-committee on Parliamentary Affairs reportedly without consultation from the parliamentary Opposition.