Tobago House of Assembly Minority Leader Watson Duke says his party plans to advance a campaign for Tobago’s legislative, economic and judicial independence.
He said Tobago is a part of the unitary state of Trinidad and Tobago but decisions are being made for the island that were not in keeping with the island’s cultural identity.
Speaking at the Minority Council’s media briefing on Wednesday, Duke said Tobago has a different history from Trinidad and it must be recognised. He said there must be equality between both islands and Tobago should be allowed to make its own laws.
“The House of Assembly has no power in it. Hence in my years there, all we have passed is motions like little children, motioning the teacher to go and take a pee, that’s all they do, motion, motion, because it is set out in the House of Assembly Act.
“If a law is to be made the law has to go to Trinidad in the Parliament but before it gets to the Parliament it must go to the Executive in Trinidad, they will look at it and they will now do green paper, white paper et cetera, then send it to the Parliament to be discussed in the Lower House, then the Upper House and then it goes to the President.
“Why is it so difficult to make a law for Tobago, why is it that Trinidad keep making laws that does not fit us.”
Duke said Tobago should also be allowed economic independence with the opportunity to borrow money from financial institutions for projects on the island. He also said Tobago should and have its own auditor general.
“Tobago must govern its own affairs, so we are saying we want economic independence. We must be able to come up with an economic plan and borrow money on the open market as Trinidad will do,” he said.
“Nobody could tell Grenada how much money to borrow, nobody can tell Barbados how much money to borrow, nobody can tell St Vincent how much money to borrow and certainly we in Tobago cannot tell Trinidad how much money to borrow, all of those decisions are made independent of any country or any advice from any country within the Caribbean because they have their own rules and plan their own economic system.”
He said it was time for Tobago’s independence but explained that it was different from secession. He also called for Tobago to have an independent judiciary, with prisoners who commit crimes on the island being allowed to serve their sentences at the Tobago prison.