With General Elections constitutionally due by March 2021, the wheels have begun turning for the formation of a Constituency Boundaries Commission.
Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves said on NBC radio on Wednesday, June 10 that he had written to the Governor General to indicate that circumstances had arisen for the appointment of such a commission.
And he also advised on his choice for one of three members who would sit on the Commission.
“I’ve named that person, Stephen Williams and I’ve sent…a copy of the letter to the Opposition Leader because he has to advise the Governor General on naming someone. I don’t know if there’s going to be any contention in any area,” Gonsalves said, noting that though the coronavirus pandemic is still affecting this country, he has to make sure that all mechanisms are in place in preparation for the upcoming elections.
The three-member commission is formed under Section 33 of the Constitution and is tasked with the responsibility of reviewing the constituency boundaries into which St Vincent and the Grenadines is divided.
The Chairman of the Committee is usually appointed by the Governor General while the Prime Minister advises the Governor General on a second person and the Opposition Leader advises on a third.
Opposition Leader, Dr Godwin Friday told SEARCHLIGHT this week that he received the Prime Minister’s letter and was in the process of considering who he will nominate to sit on the Commission.
He declined to disclose the names of the persons being considered but said that he will advise the Governor General soonest with his decision.
“I’ve given it some thought and it’s a question of consultation with the persons or person whom you wish to nominate, because it’s not a question of me just saying this is the person I wish to nominate. The person also has to consider the request and then give an answer,” Friday said.
He added that matters as significant as this require time to make the proper decision.
The Opposition Leader said he expects those appointed to take their roles seriously, carry out their duties as mandated by law in an impartial and professional manner, irrespective of who they were nominated by.
“Once they are appointed, they are members of the Commission and they represent the people of St Vincent and the Grenadines under the Constitution. That is how I look at it,” Friday said.
A resolution was passed in 2010 to increase the number of constituencies in SVG from 15 to 17.
That resolution would have come into effect once the report of the previous Commission was published and there was a dissolution of Parliament.
Gonsalves said on Wednesday, however, that there was no publication and the resolution did not take effect after the dissolution of Parliament because the Opposition contested how the divisions for the new constituencies were done.
Both General Elections in 2010 and 2015 were held with 15 constituencies.
And the Prime Minister said that when the next election is called, it would also be carried out with the existing 15 constituencies.