Duke against THA plan to take legal action against gov’t

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Duke against THA plan to take legal action against gov’t

A bad idea.

That’s how Watson Duke views a decision by the Tobago House of Assembly to take legal action against the central government, over some $166.4 million in approved parliamentary allocations that have been owed over the past few years.

Duke, who is leader of the Progressive Democratic Patriots (PDP), also slammed the THA’s decision to push for more substantial budgetary allocations through the Dispute Resolution Commission (DRC) to carry out its development agenda.

This follows an announcement this week by Chief Secretary Farley Augustine, as he moved a motion, calling on the House to adopt the THA’s re-prioritised agenda for fiscal 2024.

In its Tobago budget in June, the THA had requested $4.54 billion from central government to manage its affairs over the next year. It received $2.85 billion – 55 per cent of its original request – in the national budget in September.

At a news conference on Friday at the PDP’s headquarters, Port Mall, Scarborough, Duke said the THA should not have sought legal action.

“I am against legal action, yes. When you take legal action against someone it diminishes your ability to use moral suasion,” he said.

Duke said he was an expert at negotiations and would have handled the situation differently.

He said Augustine lacks experience, and those around him are equally bereft of the experience, that is required to take him to the next level.

“He will continue being a miniature politician if he listens to these people. He has to be bigger than that.”

Duke, assemblyman for Roxborough/Argyle, said Augustine’s motion in the House came down to a soundbite – that the THA was going to sue the government.

“That is foolishness. You don’t do that. What you want to do is to say to the government, ‘We understand your position but we will continue to have discussions with you because we must get our money.’”

He said the THA could have also gone the way of mediation or seeking an intervention through Caricom.

A legal challenge, he added, must be a last resort.