THE relationship between the unitary state of Trinidad and Tobago is one that must be redefined.
This is the view of Minority Councillor Dr Faith BYisrael who last Thursday responded during the Tobago House of Assembly's budget debate at the Assembly Legislature in Scarborough.
According to BYisrael, the minority has been stating very frequently that a part of the work within the next year would be to help that redefinition of Tobago’s independence.
“If we are honest, we know that we have a situation where Tobago is completely dependent on Trinidad and that is proven by even the numbers that we presented in the budget where we were saying that we make $200 million, but we’re asking for close to $5 billion, that is a level of dependence that Tobago has on Trinidad that I’m not sure anyone can deny.
"We must also, if we’re honest to ourselves, recognise that Trinidad is currently completely independent of Tobago…so when those of us on this side speaks about redefining Tobago’s independence, what we are speaking about is in that context where even in this union known as Trinidad and Tobago, Trinidad is currently independent and Tobago must also be at that same level,” she said, adding that when Trinidad and Tobago are both independent in the way that Trinidad is currently, then Tobago can renegotiate its relationship.
“We can be like brothers, sisters, siblings within this relationship and not like parents to a child because that is the situation where we currently stand.
“When we speak about redefining Tobago independence, the PDP (Progressive Democratic Patriots), the Minority Council is not speaking about separating from Trinidad and we are not speaking about secession.
“When we speak about redefining our independence, we are speaking about having a greater union between two entities that are equal and because these two entities are equal, we can negotiate like big man negotiating with each other and we can have real equity between the two islands because we’re talking about two entities that are equal,” she said.
This she said means that the Assembly would have to look very closely at its developmental plan, as significant catch up needs to be paid compared to where Trinidad is.
“What we’ve been seeing is that significant resources have been invested into the development on the island of Trinidad and equitable investments have not been made to the development of Tobago. We are at a point where we need to sit down and talk to our counterparts and really work together as the Tobago House of Assembly to renegotiate with what is happening in Trinidad.
"If we really, really mean side by side, we would do it but if we say side by side but what we really mean is one behind the other, then we would continue going down the road that we have gone down for the last 20 years,” she said.
She said had the Assembly really meant standing side by side with Trinidad, working together and Tobago’s development; community funding, educational tourism and wellness tourism should have been included in this years’ budget presentation.