2774215
Newly-installed THA Chief Secretary Ancil Dennis and President Paula-Mae Weekes at President’s House, Port-of-Spain, on Tuesday, after he received his instruments of appointment.

Newly-appointed Tobago House of Assembly Chief Secretary Ancil Dennis has reiterated that his main focus in the first phase of his term will be to get Tobagonians safely through the COVID-19 pandemic and place the island on a stable path to recovery.

Dennis made the call in response to Minority Leader Watson Duke’s calls on Wednesday for a fresh election to be called and of the party’s intention not to recognise Dennis as the THA head.

Asked to comment on the matter, Dennis advised Tobagonians to ignore the “childish rantings” of Duke. He referred to the Bible and quoting from First Corinthians, chapter 13, Verse 11, said, “When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.”

Duke had made the call for Dennis to dissolve the Assembly and call fresh elections during the Minority Council’s weekly virtual press briefing on Wednesday. He said initial steps to prevent the appointment of Dennis as Chief Secretary were unsuccessful as his attorneys advised him the THA’s operations are protected under the law.

“The Tobago House of Assembly has Parliamentary privileges, privileges that allow the House of Assembly to conduct its affairs in a manner that it sees fit,” Duke quoted his lawyer as saying.

However, the Progressive Democratic Patriots leader said his party will still challenge Dennis’ appointment on behalf of 0, as they were not included in choosing the Chief Secretary at this time.

Duke also stood by his decision not to support Dennis as the Chief Secretary or any decisions he makes.

“The Minority Council will not recognise this newly-elected Chief Secretary who we call the ‘Child King’,” Duke said.

Asked why he described Dennis in this manner, Duke said while he respected Dennis as an individual, the fact that he was never appointed to any substantive posts by previous Chief Secretaries was indicative of his inability to lead.

Dennis worked as assistant secretary in the divisions of the Office of the Chief Secretary and Health, Wellness and Family Development.

Duke said they will also use the Freedom of Information Act to get information from Dennis on the operations of the Executive Council between April 28 and May 12.

“We will now write to the Chief Secretary and ask the Chief Secretary to provide us with all decisions that were made between the 28th of April and the 12th of May when there was no Chief Secretary and no Executive Council.”

Duke said his purpose for writing Dennis is to determine if monies spent during that period were not recurrent expenditure.

Dennis received his oath of office on May 12 having been chosen to replace former chief secretary Kelvin Charles who resigned on April 28.

Addressing the other issues, Duke had a special message for Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley.

“Stay out of Tobago’s business, the outcome of any political election has nothing to do with the governance of Tobago,” he said.

Duke said Tobago should also be allocation $5 billion in the annual budget to expedite the island’s development thrust.