Kelvin Charles’s costly resignation
Kelvin Charles’s resignation as Tobago House of Assembly (THA) Chief Secretary on April 30 has left a significant hole in his wallet.
Now that his role in the THA is reduced to that of assemblyman, having also lost his portfolio as Secretary for Education, Innovation and Energy, Charles’ only responsibility is that of his electoral district, Black Rock/Whim/Spring Garden.
The former chief secretary previously took home $41,030.
An assemblyman without portfolio, like the Progressive Democratic Patriots’ (PDPs) Farley Augustine, receives a salary of around $11,320 while those who also function as secretaries, such as the Division of Sport and Youth Affairs’ Jomo Pitt, earn $24,370.
As Deputy Chief Secretary Joel Jack earns $25,240 while an Assistant Secretary, like Ancil Dennis, receives $19,150.
Minority leader Watson Duke carries home a pay packet of $16,540 while his PDP colleague, Dr Faith BYisrael, a councillor without portfolio, earns $8,000. THA presiding officer Vanessa Cutting-Thomas receives $20,890.
Charles lost the leadership of the PNM’s Tobago Council to Tracy Davidson-Celestine in the January 26 runoff election.
Davidson-Celestine, who has since been appointed Secretary for Health, Wellness and Family Development, won the runoff with the backing of Jack and former THA presiding officer Dr Denise Tsoiafatt Angus, both of whom unsuccessfully contested the party’s internal election on January 12.
Charles subsequently announced he would resign as Chief Secretary on April 30.
However, the void left by his resignation and the fact that a date has not yet been set for the reconvening of the THA to select a new Chief Secretary has highlighted the flaws in the THA Act, according to attorney Martin George.
In a WhatsApp voice note on Thursday, George said: “There are several interesting developments in the current THA impasse. And it is really regrettable that at this point, there appears to be no clear directive from anyone indicating the way forward for Tobago.”
Davidson-Celestine confirmed on Friday that Deputy Chief Secretary Jack will act as Chief Secretary until a substantive one is appointed.
She added the Legislature is working to ensure the Assembly reconvenes in the shortest possible time.
George noted Charles did not make his resignation letter public.
“All we saw is an announcement from the Office of the Chief Secretary. In fact, I have not seen in the media…I have not seen the actual resignation letter of Mr Charles,” he said.
“And it is important for us to see that. The resignation letter must be seen and made public because we need to know: did he resign only as Chief Secretary; did he resign as Secretary of Education; did he resign as a member of the assembly – because each of those have different implications.”
Davidson-Celestine said on Friday that Charless’ resignation automatically meant he lost the division he was in charge of.
George said if someone resigns as a member of the assembly “that immediately triggers a by-election and the President has to be notified and a by-election has to be called.”
He added if Charles also resigned as a secretary, then that position has to be filled.
George said a new chief cecretary is empowered under the legislation to appoint new secretaries.
“So, even the current secretaries, their positions are not cast in stone, because when you look at how the legislation is worded in terms of the appointment of secretaries, it is the Chief Secretary who advises the President of who shall be the secretaries.”
By: COREY CONNELLY