THA blocking Govt says PM
Monday, October 15 2012
The People’s Partnership Government is not trying to “take over” Tobago, Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar said on Saturday night.
Addressing a PP/TOP (Tobago Organisation of the People) rally at the Old Market Square uptown Scarborough on Saturday night, Persad-Bissessar instead accused the current PNM-led Tobago House of Assembly (THA), led by Chief Secretary Orville London, of “blocking” Government’s efforts to execute projects/programmes in Tobago.
Referring to statements by London that she cannot stop the THA/MilShirv project, the Prime Minister said the issue was not that but rather the THA’s lack of co-operation with central government and its management of its financial affairs
“But what is the issue? We are being stopped with obstacles being placed every step of the way as we seek to bring these projects to you”, Persad-Bissessar told the crowd.
“And as if that is not bad enough, the money that is given to the THA, very serious questions are being raised as to how those monies are being spent.”
In Parliament last Wednesday during the 2012/2013 budget debate, the Prime Minister referred to two deals involving the THA — one with a company called MilShirv for office space and another with Zoit Developers Limited for an aquatics centre.
She suggested that these two projects be halted, ordering a central audit be done by the Ministry of Finance and that the Attorney General the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Integrity Commision carry out investigations.
Addressing the crowd gathered at the rally, Persad-Bissessar also outlined a number of initiatives that she said central government was seeking to implement in the island, including establishment of a marina, a university campus, two new police stations, Fire Services headquarters complex, upgrade of the ANR Robinson International Airport at Crown Point and introduction of a Tobago Land (Reform) Bill to deal specifically with the long-standing problem of land deeds/titles on the island.
She also listed other projects as being the designation of Tobago as a duty-free zone, accreditation of the new Scarborough General Hospital as a “teaching hospital”, a special school for the differently-abled, and a tourism support programme, among others.
Referring to the Empowerment Centre model which was in operation at Bethel under the guidance of Tobago West MP Dr Delmon Baker, Persad Bissessar said, “But we need to do more.
You see, every time we want to work with the people of Tobago, Mr London and company, they say Kamla can’t come to Tobago, Kamla can’t do anything in Tobago”.
She stressed that what was required was the THA working in tandem with Government towards Tobago’s development, and telling the crowd the decision was theirs to make this happen, pointing to the upcoming THA election and the performance of the PNM Assembly administration over the past 12 years.
“I need a THA, you need a THA that will work in the best interest of the people of Tobago. That’s why I am saying to you, we need a THA to work side by side, hand in hand, with central Government. Trinidad has no intention of taking over Tobago; the central Government has no intention of taking over Tobago”, she declared.
Referring to the projects that Government has planned for the island, Persad-Bissessar asked the crowd if they wanted these projects on stream in Tobago.
“Yeah”, the energised crowd replied as she listed the projects .
“Then you know what you have to do; I don’t have to tell you what to do, you know what to do”, Persad Bissessar told them, asserting:
“We must have a THA that will work with central Government for the development of Tobago and Trinidad, Trinidad and Tobago.” She said THA Minority Leader/TOP political leader, Ashworth Jack, understood that “for Tobago to go forward he must cooperate with the Government of Trinidad and Tobago.
“Are you better off today after 12 years of Orville?” she asked the crowd, to shouts of “No!” She added: “I cannot tell you what to do; examine your consciences. They say Trinidad want to take over Tobago, but I am saying to you tonight (Saturday), Tobago must take over Tobago.
London bridge has fallen down!” she declared.