Health Secretary Tracy Davidson-Celestine said the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) Executive Council remains functioning in the absence of a sitting chief secretary.
Davidson-Celestine was responding to attorney Martin George’s view that since the resignation of Kelvin Charles, the non-appointment of a new chief secretary has rendered the Executive Council dormant.
In a WhatsApp voice note on Friday, George said the existing THA Act does not address the voluntary resignation of a sitting chief secretary.
“At this point, there is no Executive Council of the THA in existence because under the THA Act, it specifically states that the Executive Council comprises the chief secretary and a list of persons. Currently, there is no chief secretary so there is no Executive Council at this time.”
He added: “The act specifies no set procedure. In fact, it does not even mention a scenario such as this, which is the voluntary resignation of a chief secretary of his own accord.”
George said the act alludes to he/she resigning where there is a motion of no confidence, “but that is not the scenario here.”
Saying the imbroglio caused by the non-appointment of a chief secretary reflects the flaws in the legislation, George called for an urgent review of the act to clear up its ambiguities.
Davidson-Celestine, who is also the PNM Tobago Council leader, denied the Executive Council was non-functional as a result of Charles’ resignation.
She told reporters the Executive Council met last Wednesday and its work will continue.
“I would also wish to indicate that if I am not mistaken, the Act 40 of 1996 identifies a particular procedure and a particular process so that in the event that there is no chief secretary, which has happened before because there were times that the chief secretary would have been absent from Tobago, the deputy chief secretary will act as the chief secretary.”
Davidson-Celestine said the process to appoint a new chief secretary is clearly outlined as well as the procedures to follow in the interim.
“I, myself, have acted as chief secretary sometime before when I held the position of deputy chief secretary, and now we have assemblyman Joel Jack who holds the portfolio of deputy chief secretary and will also act as the chief secretary until that time that the chief secretary has been nominated.”
Charles lost the leadership of the PNM Tobago Council to Davidson-Celestine in the party’s January 26 runoff election.
He announced at a news conference on February 11 he would step down as chief secretary on April 30. Charles also lost the education portfolio.