PRIME Minister Dr Keith Rowley yesterday laid a bill in the House of Representatives to encourage Tobago to make its own laws (except in a few areas), as he pushed for more autonomy for the sister isle. The bill says, “There shall be a Tobago Legislature which shall consist of the President, the House of Assembly and the People’s House.
“The Tobago Legislature shall have power to make laws for the peace, order and good government of Tobago (section 141).”
The bill also sets up a Tobago Service Commission.
Rowley said the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) has been empowered to pass Bills and ask Cabinet to enact them via Parliament, but no such laws have ever been made.
“The current arrangements therefore fall short of internal self-government for Tobago, even as envisaged more than 30 years ago in the Seemungal Bill.”
He said his new bill was based on the Tobago House of Assembly’s Bill No1of 2016, amended to address concerns of the Chief Parliamentary Counsel.
Rowley said, “The Constitution (Amendment) (Tobago Self Government) Bill, 2018 has been developed after a very long and transparent process of research, extensive public consultations and a genuine desire to advance and improve the process of granting further autonomy to the Island of Tobago within the context of the sovereign democratic State of Trinidad and Tobago.”
Saying Cabinet has seen the bill, he said it is in Parliament to address the aspiration of Tobagonians.
“One hundred and twenty years after the union of Trinidad and Tobago it is opportune that the basis for advancement of the sovereign democratic State is reformatted.” He said this bill to amend Constitution is necessary to provide the autonomy which Tobago requires.
“This will allow Tobago to play a meaningful role in the fulfilment of the Sustainable Development Goals as well as to advance and align Tobago’s development towards the attainment of Vision 2030.” The bill will promote Tobago’s self-government and autonomy.
“The Government humbly submits this bill for the fullest participation through a Joint Select Committee of this Honourable House and trust that it will be received and advanced to the satisfaction of all the people of our beloved Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, particularly our brothers and sisters in Tobago.”