Call THA election
By Karl Cupid Monday, October 15 2012
click on pic to zoom in
Ashworth Jack, Minority Leader in the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) and political leader of the Tobago Organisation of the People (TOP), addresses su...
Ashworth Jack, Minority Leader in the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) and political leader of the Tobago Organisation of the People (TOP), on Saturday night dared THA Chief Secretary Orville London to set a date for the THA election due next year.
In a stinging attack on London and his cousin, Finance Secretary Dr Anselm London, over the PNM-led Assembly’s performance during its three terms in office, Jack declared to raucous applause from cheering supporters, “If the poll say you going to win, call the election.”
Speaking at the People’s Partnership/TOP rally in Scarborough, Jack told the crowd that “freedom is at hand” as he saw victory for TOP in the election. He told supporters, “When the TOP is in government (in the Assembly) we will not victimise you, because we know the richness of democracy”.
Jack told Tobagonians it was necessary to examine the performance of the PNM-controlled THA administration over the past 12 years, accusing the THA executive of impropriety and mismanagement in the handling of the Assembly’s financial affairs. He also accused the Finance Secretary of “arrogance at its highest”.
Jack said he was ashamed of having to say he knows the Londons. “I am ashamed I know Orville; I am ashamed I know Anselm. I am ashamed because we have allowed them to pilfer the people’s money for much too long”, he told the gathering.
He noted that the Auditor-General’s Report of 2004 indicated that the Assembly could not account for millions of dollars.
Jack said the Assembly’s recently introduced “YES” programme, a young professional’s initiative, that he described as a “glorified OJT (on-the-job training)”, and charged that some $20 million was wired (transferred) out of the programme with not one young Tobagonian being hired. He alleged impropriety on the part of the current Assembly in its procurement practices and other financial dealings in terms of the execution of THA projects, declaring that this would not occur under a TOP-controlled Assembly administration. “We will ensure that we put a procurement process in place, and I don’t care who it is in my administration that is stealing, they would go and meet Orville and Anselm in jail,” he declared.
Jack said the TOP was charting a “new direction” for Tobago. He said that the TOP would take steps to ensure that all lands in the possession of the THA become “productive lands”.
With respect to claims by the Chief Secretary and Finance Secretary that the $350 million allocated in the recent 2013 national budget to fund development in Tobago was inadequate, and that the THA has been underfunded in the development portfolio over the years, the TOP leader said: “I have no problem with wanting more money, as long as the money is used to develop Tobago”.
He also charged that the PNM has stood against internal self-government for Tobago, and that they must be voted out of office in the upcoming THA election.
Meanwhile, TOP chairman Lionel Coker said he was told that, Chief Secretary London was “getting jumpy and having sleepless nights.”
“They must know that Ashworth Jack is the new sheriff in town,” he quipped.
Alluding to allegations surrounding several THA projects, Coker said “bobol by any other name is still bobol”. He said London must state how much money was paid to Mervyn Campbell, an attorney who previously did legal work for the Assembly, and is listed as a director of ZOIT Developers Ltd which is said to have received a “letter of interest” over the proposed Bacolet indoor complex and aquatic stadium. He told Tobagonians that the PNM would “wine and dine” the people up to the THA election, “and after the election they drop you.”
“As we speak, they are at your doorsteps promising you the moon and the stars,” he warned. “If it is one time Tobago needed you, it’s now,” he told the crowd, saying that the PP Government has boundless faith in the people of Tobago.