The ongoing impasse after the recent House of Assembly Election has created anxiety and uncertainty among the people of Tobago.
So said the People’s National Movement (PNM) Tobago Council.
In a release on Saturday, the council wrote that this is a unique and historic situation in which two organisations that have been highly critical of each other over an extended period are proposing an arrangement to share the responsibility for the administration of the island.
“Any agreement on the terms cannot be an end in itself and as responsible leaders, we must guarantee to the people of Tobago, an environment of stability and predictability in the administration, throughout the duration of any arrangement.”
It said “PNM Tobago Council, Political Leader Tracy Davidson Celestine has asserted that good governance for the people of Tobago must be underpinned by the rule of law and in this instance, no Memorandum of Understanding can take precedence over the Tobago House of Assembly Act 40 of 1996. Under the Act, it is the Chief Secretary who has responsibility for the Executive Council and, by extension, is responsible to the electorate for the performance of members of the Executive Council.
“It will, therefore, be counterproductive if the Chief Secretary was not afforded the flexibility to appoint Secretaries and Assistant Secretaries, in his or her sole discretion. Any other arrangement will lead to the formation of parallel Executive Councils and a Chief Secretary with maximum responsibility and minimal authority.:
The Tobago PNM is also concerned at the Progressive Democratic Patriots (PDP) proposal to claim two of three Councillors in the House and cautions that this arrangement will give the PDP the majority in the House and the option to move a vote of no confidence and remove the Chief Secretary or the Presiding Officer, at their convenience.
According to Davidson-Celestine, “We need to set aside personalities, egos and personal political ambitions if we are to find a workable solution. This calls for a level of maturity, humility and understanding that Tobago expects from its political leaders. We must commit to respect for each other and genuine concern for every Tobagonian, regardless of political affiliation.”
The Tobago PNM is also uncomfortable with the proposal to utilise mediators, at this time, in our efforts to resolve the impasse. “If we send the signal that we cannot resolve this impasse on our own initiative, we could be hard pressed to convince the Tobago public that we will be able to engender the level and quality of collaboration that will prevent the administration from descending into chaos after any “arrangement”.
The PNM is therefore proposing that the twelve Assemblymen should return to the negotiating table at a date and time to be determined, after discussions between the two political leaders.