THA Chief Secretary Farley Augustine speaks with the media yesterday at his Victor E Bruce Financial Complex, Scarborough offices.

Tobago House of Assembly (THA) Chief Secretary Farley Augustine is calling for greater autonomy for Tobago to handle the careers of public servants.

Augustine yesterday gave the media an update on his meeting with Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley.

Augustine said he questioned why someone in Trinidad had to sign off on public servant issues in Tobago.

“The Public Service Commission, and so on, that does not operate out of Tobago we do not have control over the Commission, but there are some bugbears within the system that needed some fleshing out and some discussions on,” Augustine said.

One of those issues, Augustine said, was that Tobago was losing its senior public service administrators to Trinidad where they are placed as permanent secretaries.

“We looked at what we can do to keep them here, without them having to lose the promotional value of getting to another place within the establishment. All of these issues are critical issues and issues that we would get some solutions on soon,” he said.

Augustine said that the two groups came up with some workable solutions on some issues and other issues needed more discussions.

“Let me give you an example, the Cabinet members who were here seemed shocked and alarmed when someone in Tobago applies to get a boat registered, it might take you six months to get it through the system,” he said.

Augustine said he also conveyed to the Prime Minister and the Cabinet reps that there are only four game wardens in Tobago and one is close to retirement and that there is no firearms user certificate, where the THA acquires the firearm and the game wardens use it and return it to the THA.

He said that environmental police work from 8 am to 4 pm.

“I mean these are things which are really outside of the control of the THA, well the Cabinet somehow did not know what was happening or was oblivious to it happening and so one of the immediate things was why do we need someone in Trinidad to sign off on registration on a boat? Why can’t that just happen in the Division?” he asked.

Augustine said that it was “good” that the Cabinet members were surprised by the limits on the THA reach.

“I thought, good, let’s fix them now, let’s walk away from here with a resolve ghat we are going to fix these issues now,” he said.

Augustine said that the “strong resolution” actually works in favour of Tobago autonomy.

“Which is to say that these things that we are still dependent on public servants in Trinidad to do for us that we can, in a very short time, be doing them right here in our own Divisions right here,” he said.

Augustine said the THA has been running like this for the past 21 years.

“It is just unfortunate that nobody brought it up before or if it was brought up before it was ignored before, but these are critical things,” Augustine said.