By KHRISNA VIRGIL
Deputy Chief Reporter
HOUSE Speaker Dr Kendal Major, who is chairman of the Constituencies Commission, yesterday admitted that the commission has not completed its work and would, if needed, labour over the Christmas recess to finish its report.
He said it is the group’s intention to table and debate its report at the first sitting of Parliament in January 2017.
Dr Major said it was also his hope that newly appointed committee member St Anne’s MP Hubert Chipman would use the holiday break to bring himself up to speed on the work done so far. The House of Assembly has adjourned to Monday, January 9, 2017.
Mr Chipman replaced East Grand Bahama MP Peter Turnquest on the committee after Long Island MP Loretta Butler-Turner was voted as the new leader of the Official Opposition in Parliament after she and six Free National Movement MPs submitted a letter of no confidence in Killarney MP Dr Hubert Minnis to lead them in the House.
Earlier this week, The Tribune reported that the commission intends to create a new constituency in New Providence.
It is understood that portions of Englerston, Centreville, Bain and Grants Town and Fort Charlotte will be redrawn to reconstitute St Cecelia.
This constituency was eliminated before the last general election and divided among Bain Town, Englerston and Centreville.
Nearly two weeks ago, Mr Turnquest told The Tribune the Constituencies Commission missed its self-imposed deadline to submit recommendations for boundary changes. At the time, he speculated that the report would not come until next year.
The MP speculated that the deadline had been missed because the governing side was still mulling over additional constituencies in a bid to bolster support in tough areas.
He maintained that there was not enough information to make a scientific decision on any boundary changes due to low voter registration.
The commission used data from the 2010 census that had been extrapolated in a 2016 report prepared by the Department of Statistics, to guide recommendations.
The report, prepared by the Census Section, projected a population increase of 6.9 per cent on New Providence.
The Constituencies Commission is comprised of Dr Major; Senior Justice Stephen Isaacs, vice-chair; government members, Deputy Prime Minister Philip Davis and Jerome Fitzgerald; Mr Chipman; and House clerks Maurice Tynes and David Forbes.
Former Progressive Liberal Party Cabinet minister George Smith had called for the creation of additional seats in the Family Islands, specifically splitting the Exuma and Ragged Island constituency into two seats.
Mr Smith, who represented Exuma during the Pindling era, had also asked Prime Minister Perry Christie to select him as the PLP’s candidate for a second Exuma seat.