WITH no further advice from Government since last Thursday’s Privy Council ruling that the one-year extension of local government terms was illegal, the United National Congress (UNC) is drafting another pre-action protocol letter to the Prime Minister demanding he call the elections now.
Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar made the announcement before a lively audience which included front-row spectator Ravi Balgobin Maharaj, who legally challenged the extension, at Naparima College, San Fernando, on Monday night.
“Lawyers are helping me, right now, to draft a pre-action protocol letter to Keith Christopher Rowley, to call the election now.
“I will give you (Rowley) a few days and if you do not respond, we (will) have 'legal luminary' Ravi Balgobin-Maharaj take you back to court and demand that elections be held.”
With local government bodies “in a state of perpetual limbo," she said, "The government must inform the nation how it intends to rectify the situation they put us in and how soon they will deal with this problem.”
The most important question is: “When is the date of the election?
“Members of the Cabinet have been treating the population as fools. They are playing with words. They are intentionally being vague and evasive.”
Persad-Bissessar argued, “In my respectful view, the offices of councillors and aldermen are currently vacant. They (offices) expired in December last year.”
She warned councillors and aldermen who usually vote on projects and make financial decisions: “Don’t do nothing, or you will be held personally liable for acting illegally. Your office expired in December last year. Understand that.”
Saying the amendments to the Municipal Corporation Act were initially flawed, Persad-Bissessar anticipates government returning to Parliament to validate what councillors are doing during this period, “to try to say you are still alive.
“The only time a dead man came alive was 2,000 years ago when there was the Resurrection. That same great man also raised a dead man called Lazarus," she said, in a reference to the Bible.
“Whatever bill they bring to the Parliament must not be a Lazarus bill to raise the dead again. They must come good, because we will take them to court again.”
She boasted that the Privy Council ruling made legal history not only in TT, but in the Commonwealth.
“This will set a legal precedent in the 54 Commonwealth nations. It is a landmark for democracy, and I want to congratulate the law lords, who don’t often overturn the decision of the lower courts. They had the belly and some other parts (that) were strong enough to do so.”
Showing a map of Trinidad after the last local government elections, with her party’s yellow as the dominant colour, she declared, “We are winners. We are strong. We are proud.
" San Fernando, do the right thing. Let’s run them out of town. Vote them out.”
At the meeting, which former senator Sean Sobers said was the launch of the election campaign, he was optimistic the UNC would seize control and instal a UNC mayor.
Persad-Bissessar said it was critical for the UNC to take control of the San Fernando Municipal Corporation to bring back life, make the economy blossom and get rid of gangs striking fear into the community.
“We are living in very, very exciting times, because we are on the brink of victory with the UNC.”
With elections – local or general – on the horizon, she cautioned supporters not to forget the last eight years of neglect, since, she said, the PNM had brought T-shirt with dollars wrapped inside and promises of "ten-days" jobs because they believed TT citizens were stupid.
She advised, “Take it. Take whatever they give you – and vote them out.”
She cautioned businesses which have been waiting for VAT refunds for years not to be fooled by the promise of Finance Minister Colm Imbert that he would find the money to pay.
She said this was another ploy, like the promise to the Oilfield Workers Trade Union (OWTU) to sell them the now-defunct Pointe-a-Pierre refinery on the eve of an election. Years later, the refinery is still mothballed.
Already, she said, potholes and roads are being patched in some regions, in the absence of legally functioning bodies.
She took a jab at public-sector unions which were now accepting the four per cent wage offer when under her administration, they rejected 14 per cent.
Pointing to the closure of Caridoc and the loss of another 100 jobs, skyrocketing food prices, pending electricity and water rates, she cautioned that the property tax will soon be coming. She said one of the bills to be debated in Parliament on Wednesday has to do with amending the law to collect this tax.
“It (bill) is about land valuation, for them to get into your property to impose the taxes. At this time, they can’t do it, so they are coming to amend the law to be able to get into your homes.
“We have fought it as much as we could – in the court and outside of the court. Now it is up to you.”