TOBAGO House of Assembly Chief Secretary Orville London has written to Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar to propose the establishment of a “Reconciliation Commission” to set the sister isle on the road to self-governance.
The proposed commission would be mandated to draft legislation to that effect, the THA stated in a media release last Friday.
In his letter to the PM, London said the commission should comprise equal representation of the Cabinet and THA Executive Council, with the chairperson being agreed upon by both parties, as guided by the “design, spirit and intent of the Dispute Resolution provisions in section 57(1) of the THA Act No. 40”.
London’s proposal was on the invitation of the Prime Minister during their last quarterly meeting on June 21, the THA stated.
The details of the proposal submitted to Persad-Bissessar will be discussed at their next meeting in September.
In his letter, London said the proposal recognised the need for the Prime Minister and the Chief Secretary to “hold regular discussions with a view to formulating administrative and legislative mechanisms for the promotion of harmony in the affairs of Trinidad and Tobago”, as prescribed by section 31 of the Act.
The THA Chief Secretary explained that this was further supported by section 56 of the Act which established a dispute resolution commission (DRC) to “resolve disputes between the Assembly and Government on budgetary allocations to the Assembly and matters in connection therewith.”
London added that the allocation of resources to Tobago was one of the most critical issues facing constitutional reform.
“It must also be noted, Madam Prime Minister, that the mechanism of the dispute resolution commission has been utilised with procedural success, and should be considered an appropriate model for treating with this larger issue.”
The Chief Secretary also stated that in the application of the DRC model, the Government and the Assembly would each appoint a team of three to five persons, and a chairperson to be appointed by mutual agreement.
He said the proposed Commission would be required to submit a report detailing its “consensual” position to both the Government and the Assembly for action by their principals.
London added that this report could become the catalyst for further discussion in Cabinet, the THA and in the public domain, before debate and final resolution in the Parliament of Trinidad and Tobago.
For the past six years, the people of Tobago have been engaged in discussion, consultation and reporting on the issue of Tobago’s position in the union and the outcome of these engagements has been forwarded officially to the Central Government, London stated.
He said the exposition of the relative positions of the Cabinet and the Executive Council had not produced, nor was likely to produce, a viable resolution.
“The people of Tobago now need adequate assurance that their concerns and positions will be addressed. They remain convinced that the issue of internal self-government for Tobago should not be delayed any further by being subsumed in a national consultation reform process whose outcomes are uncertain,” London said in his letter.