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Time for radical constitutional reforms in Parliament, says Malahoo-Forte

Published:Wednesday | May 7, 2014 | 10:30 AM

Jovan Johnson, Gleaner Writer



KINGSTON, Jamaica:

Opposition Senator Marlene Malahoo-Forte says the time has come for radical constitutional reforms in the operations of the Parliament, which may include having an elected Senate.




Currently, the 21-members of Jamaica's Upper House are appointed by the Governor General on the recommendation of the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition. 



Under the Constitution, the Senate has no power to amend money bills, such as the Appropriations Act, setting out the Budget.



On Friday, Senator Malahoo-Forte argued that such a rule serves no purpose and should be changed to give non-elected persons a say in budgetary matters.



However, president of the Senate, Floyd Morris dismissed her argument, noting that the process has been in practice for years and is a constitutional provision.



However, Malahoo-Forte is not backing down and is now arguing that some traditions that are no longer relevant should be abandoned.



Malahoo-Forte says consideration should be given to having members of the senate elected if the principle of no taxation without representation is to remain.



She notes that the constitutional changes will require extensive public education and referenda because of their level of entrenchment in the Constitution.



However, the Senator insists that Jamaica faces numerous problems that require efficiency in the work of the Parliament if those issues are to be addressed.



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