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Sunday 18 March 2018

Almost a year after inauguration, Minority still without office

Tobago House of Assembly (THA) Minority Councillor, Dr Faith B Yisrael is accusing Leader of Assembly Business, Councillor Kwesi DesVignes, of providing inaccurate information to the public as it related to the issue of office space for the Minority.

Speaking with Newsday Tobago on Saturday, Yisrael said since the inauguration of Minority members in January 2017, they were still without an office space.

“We are sick and tired of these people lying to Tobago and Tobagonians… they need to be held accountable,’ she said.

Yisrael said the Duke wrote to the THA, indicating a preference for the TTMF building since it is next to Assembly legislature, has adequate parking and is easily accessible by the public, with no need for elevators inside the building. The ADB building has limited parking, it not easily accessible for the public, and the allocated office space would require the use of elevator.

“The Minority leader was very clear in his letter that this was not the most suitable space,” she said of the ADB building.

Noting that earlier in March this year, Des Vignes had said office had been acquired for the Minority Council at the ADB building and that a note was to go before the Executive Council for approval, she challenged him to present the evidence.

“…if this note for the ADB building was actually taken and passed at Executive Council, well then there would be an Executive Council minute associated with it,” she said, also calling for proof of a lease and a rental agreement for the ADB building, or any other space, on behalf of the Office of the Minority Leader.

“They also need to show that a letter with keys was sent to the Minority Leader indicating that this is the office space that has been rented and these are the keys, and these are the provisions. They also need to show proof of any letter from the Minority Leader stating that he would not accept any particular building …,” she said.

Contacted for a response, Leader of Assembly Business, Infrastructure Secretary Kwesi DesVignes insisted that office space was approved for the Minority by the Executive Council and the Chief Administrator was instructed to act but that Minority Leader Watson Duke said he did not wanted that particular space.

“I know that when the space was originally offered to the Minority Leader, he would have written… he did not write to me although I am

the Leader of Assembly Business, he would have written I believe to the Chief Administrator and the Chief Secretary indicating that he doesn’t desire to take up that space. Of course, the offer is there… the Chief Administrator has been so empowered to ensure he can find a suitable space,” he said.

Asked if keys to an office were handed over to the Minority for the space approved by the Executive Council, Des Vignes said “to my knowledge no, because if someone refuses, I don’t think that they would take the keys. As far as I am aware, the refusal was actually in writing as I don’t know if I refuse a space in writing, that I would take the keys afterwards.”


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