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Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley
CAMILLE McEACHNIE

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley says 73 per cent of Trinidadians support the two draft bills giving greater autonomy to Tobago.

The draft bills—the Constitution Amendment (Tobago Self Government) Bill and the Tobago Island Government Bill (2020)—seek to change the national constitution and give Tobago more administrative powers.

The Joint Select Committee, chosen to examine the drafts after consultations with nationals and regional experts, laid the drafts in Parliament on June 9.  According to the PM, the drafts will be debated soon.

Speaking on Tobago Channel 5’s morning talk show on June 16th, Dr Rowley said Tobagonians should support the drafts as Trinidadians are supporting it.

“What has been proposed here for Tobago, by national polling, has a 73 per cent support… so if Tobago wants to reject that, you on your own with that,” said Dr Rowley, who is also the political leader of the People’s National Movement.

Earlier, host Deryck Brathwaite (Brother B) told the PM that “Tobago voices” had rejected the bills as they did not reflect the drafts sent to Trinidad in 2014.

“When you reject it [draft bills], what do you replace it with? You replace it with remaining where you are,” the PM said.

He said laying the bill in Parliament is a “giant step”. He said the PNM’s 22 members in parliament would support the bill. However, it needed 31 votes to become law.

“I cannot tell you that this bill will pass,” Dr Rowley said.  

“You see the PNM haters, the best thing they can do for Tobago now, if you have any influence with the UNC, is to ask them to support this bill,” he added.