Trinidad and Tobago
Overview and context
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Nationally Determined Contribution (UNFCCC website)
Trinidad and Tobago is a unitary republic, which gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1962. Legislative power is vested in the bicameral Parliament, which is based on the Westminster system and consists of the Senate (Upper House) and the House of Representatives (Lower House). Among the 31 members of the Senate, 16 are appointed on the advice of the Prime Minister, 6 on the Opposition Leader’s advice, and 9 Independent Senators are appointed by the President to represent other sectors of civil society. The 41 members of the House of Representatives are elected every five years by the public. The last national level election for the House of Representatives took place in 2010 and the next election is expected to take place in 2015. The President is both the Head of State and Commander in Chief of the Armed forces. The President is elected for a five-year term by secret ballot of the Electoral College, which consists of all Members of Parliament. The responsibility of the President includes the assenting to bills and appointment of the Prime Minister, Senators and other officials. The last presidential election took place in 2013, and the next election is expected to take place in 2018.
The Ministry of Local Government oversees municipal implementations to “convey the policy perspectives and guidelines of the central government”. In Trinidad, there are 14 Municipal Corporations (2 city, 3 borough and 9 regional corporations) responsible for local affairs and implementations within the island. The Tobago House of Assembly (THA) is the local government body created by the Constitution for the “purpose of making better provision for the administration of the Island of Tobago and for matters connected therewith”, which carries out some responsibilities of the central government. Tobago is administered as a single county and it consists of 12 local electoral districts with each district electing one member to the THA.
The draft of a legislative proposal is called a Bill, and there are two types of Bills: private Bills, related to private rights or interest of particular persons; and public Bills, also known as government Bills, which are related to public interest. A government Bill can be introduced by either house, and must be approved by the Cabinet prior to its introduction in Parliament. Bills should be approved by each House by majority of those present and voting; for constitutional amendments, three quarters or two thirds of the votes of the Members are required in each House, depending on the nature of the Constitutional amendment required. Once the Bill passes both Houses, it is presented to the President for assent or approval. Assent of the President formally converts the Bill into an Act of Parliament.