defeated Tobago Organization of the People (TOP)
candidate for Belle Garden/Delaford in the last THA polls
When the opposition People’s National Movement (PNM) shot down the Tobago Bill in the national Parliament prior to the January 21 Tobago House of Assembly (THA) election, it rejected a $1.8 Billion increase in the budgetary allocation for Tobago, according to Anslem Richards. This position was presented by Richards, a defeated Tobago Organization of the People (TOP) candidate for Belle Garden/Delaford in the last THA polls. He was at the time delivering a scathing attack on the PNM at a public meeting held by a splinter group calling itself the Forwards of the TOP in Bethel two Saturdays ago.Richards focused his line of attack on both the PNM opposition Leader Dr. Keith Rowley and THA Chief Secretary Orville London charging that for very selfish political reasons, they rejected one of the most far-reaching pieces of legislation to advance the over 100 years cause of internal self-government for the island. “When the history of Tobago is written, I guarantee you that it would not be kind to both London and Rowley,” he opined. “It was Rowley, who stood up in the parliament and said that Orville told him not to support the Bill, shutting the door to our freedom,” contended Richards. “Every single Tobagonian must hold these two men accountable for the present state of affairs in Tobago as it relates to our right to self-determination,” he stated. “This is very serious business, as it is an issue about the welfare, well-being, the entitlement and the constitutional right of a people. You don’t treat with this issue on feelings, emotions and fear,” remarked Richards. He then pointed out that given a National Budget of over $60 plus Billion and based on a minimum share of 6.9% as was proposed by the Tobago Bill, the island would have been entitled by right to a budget of over $4.2 Billion. “We now have a situation, where the Chief Secretary is going down to Trinidad asking the Finance Minister Larry Howai for $4.8 Billion. Under the proposed new arrangements in the Bill, he did not have to ask Mr. Howai a word, as Tobago by right would have been entitled to its constitutionally guaranteed share of the national budget,” argued Richards. “Is it because our Chief Secretary likes to beg why he shot down the Bill?” he questioned. “This is a man, who claims to love Tobago, yet he has denied our people an additional $1.8 Billion in funding for the island,” declared Richards.