MAJOR BLOW TO THA

By Kinnesha George Friday, June 12 2015
Warning shake: Acting Chief Administrator Paul Thomas, left, helps to hold a ribbon as THA Chief Secretary and US Charge d’affaires Margaret Diop cong…
Warning shake: Acting Chief Administrator Paul Thomas, left, helps to hold a ribbon as THA Chief Secretary and US Charge d’affaires Margaret Diop cong…
A major blow to the Tobago House of Assembly (THA).

This is how many Tobagonians view the THA’s legal defeat of its constitutional motion in which it sought to challenge the authority of the Central Government over Tobago’s affairs.

Tobagonians took to Facebook voicing their dissatisfaction in the ruling of Justice Nadia Kangaloo against the THA and one post summed up their opinions as “it was indeed a step back for Tobago and should not be taken lightly.”

However, Chief Secretary Orville London doesn’t feel as though the battle has been lost and yesterday the THA may appeal the judgment.

“It is more than likely that the decision would be appealed because there is at least four or five grounds where we believe that the judge has erred in law based on what I would have got from the counsel,” London told reporters at Fort King George, Scarborough.

“The second aspect is that this is a wake-up call for all of us in the Tobago House of Assembly and all of us as Tobagonians because we have to understand that the 1996 Act is subject to various of interpretation and we were to take the judge’s interpretation literally, it means that the 1996 Act has no consequence with respect to any form of autonomy and responsibility because the impression is being given that the Central Government, based on the 1996 Act has the right to wilfully, mischievously and even cynically undermine the authority of the THA as granted by Act 40 of 1996. This could not have been the intent by the draftsmen and I am confident that we can be able to demonstrate at another level that the judge erred on a number of grounds where the law is concerned,” the Chief Secretary explained. Former THA Chief Secretary and political leader of the Tobago Platform of the Truth (TPT) Hochoy Charles when contacted for comment yesterday said, “The aim is to remove that impediment so that’s why we asking for full internal self-government. This is what we have been saying for the longest while, self-government was passed for Tobago since 1977 but the first piece of legislation that was passed in the Parliament to implement that decision did not go far enough.”

“In 1996, and that is the current legislation which we now operate under, it did not even go far enough because the parties that carried it to the Parliament, which is the Government had 19 seats; 17 UNC and 2 NAR, it required that 24 votes to pass it and at that time the People’s National Movement did not support it. So they did not have the required majority in Parliament in order to amend the Constitution to remove Cabinet overall policy,” Charles explained. Political leader of the Tobago Organisation of the People (TOP) Ashworth Jack, in his response, said the PNM-led THA administration has taken the island back to pre-1996.

“I am saddened that Tobago’s people’s money would have been spent to determine something we know the answer to. Tobago is where it is today in terms of internal self-government as a result of the PNM, on every occasion that this issue went to the Parliament the PNM refused to support it–1977, 1996, 2013. The solution to this is a genuine attempt at internal self government.

When the decision is appealed the outcome would be the same, the only difference is that more Tobago people money would be spent to do something in which we know the outcome would be the same,” Jack argued.

On Wednesday, Justice Kangaloo agreed with the arguments of the Central Government that while the THA has jurisdiction over areas such as State lands, Tourism, Agriculture, Fisheries, Food Production, Telecommunications, Air and Sea Transport, Customs and Excise, Education, including curriculum, Postal Services, Plant and Animal Quarantine, it does not have autonomy and must still be subject to the decision-making authority of Cabinet on policy issues in respect to all the areas set out in the Fifth Schedule of the Constitution.
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Extracted From: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday Newspaper

By Kinnesha George Friday, June 12 2015

 

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