The Trinidad and Tobago Chamber of Industry and Commerce yesterday launched the T&T Debates Commission at its Westmooring office. Chamber president Angella Persad is the chair of the commission. The commission hopes to create a better informed electorate for the May 24 general election through televised political debates. Yesterday, the commission announced the dates and format of two debates between the Government and the Opposition before the May 24 election at the Chamber of Commerce Building, Columbus Circle, Westmoorings.
Persad said the goal of the debates was to furnish the electorate with a clear understanding as to where each political party stands on the issues that affect the population. She said the result would be a more informed electorate with a strengthened understanding of democracy. She added the commission aimed to develop a televised debate forum similar to that used American presidential elections.
Persad said the commission had received advice from the United States Commission of Presidential Debates and the Jamaican Debate Committee.
She said two debates had been scheduled to be televised publicly via the local stations. The first debate will take place on May 13 and will focus on social and economic issues. It will be moderated by former Justice of Appeal Ulric Cross. Two teams comprising two representatives each, nominated by the People's National Movement and the People's Partnership alliance, have been invited to participate.
The second debate will take place on May 18 and will focus on leadership issues. The political leaders of the PNM and the alliance have been invited to attend. This will be moderated by Sir Shridath Ramphal, former Commonwealth General Secretary. Members of the commission include Persad; Ian Collier, former chamber president; Ronald Harford, chairman of Republic Bank; Owen Baptiste, former editor-in-chief of the Guardian; Fr Clyde Harvey, RC priest; and Prof Rhoda Reddock, deputy principal of UWI, St Augustine.