Progressive Democratic Patriots (PDP) political leader Watson Duke says he has no interest in becoming Secretary of Finance in the Tobago House of Assembly (THA).
He was responding to claims by PNM Tobago Council political leader Tracy Davidson-Celestine that members of the public are fearful of his getting the finance portfolio if the PNM accepts his party’s power-sharing arrangement.
During a tour of the $30 million Bacolet Indoor Sporting Facility on Friday, Davidson-Celestine, in her capacity as Secretary of Sports and Youth Affairs, claimed people have told her they do not want any PDP assemblymen to get the finance portfolio, especially Duke.
During a meeting on Wednesday with the Prime Minister at the Magdalena Grand Beach & Golf Resort, Lowlands, the PDP proposed an interim power-sharing arrangement to manage the island’s affairs while a solution to the electoral deadlock is being determined.
The party said it was willing to give the PNM the positions of Chief Secretary and Presiding Officer and it would take Deputy Chief Secretary and Secretary of Finance. The PNM is expected to deliberate on the proposals on Monday.
But in a Facebook video, Duke said he had no interest in becoming finance secretary.
“It is with laughter that I read a post on social media where Tobago PNM leader is saying that the public is expressing concerns over Watson Duke becoming possibly the finance secretary,” he said.
“I wish to allay those concerns, those fears that are emanating from the head of Tracy Davidson-Celestine and say to her. I have no interest in becoming the secretary of finance nor an assistant secretary to the secretary of finance.
“My interest is on serving the people of Tobago and being part of a Tobago team that will preside over the ushering in of Tobago’s autonomy. That is my concern and that is where I will commit myself to and spend my energies.”
Duke, in the video, also responded to arguments by attorney Martin George that the PDP’s power-sharing proposal was illegal.
“The PDP rejects terms used by attorney Martin George to describe the intent of the PDP in so far as working with the PNM so as to resolve the issues within the Tobago House of Assembly and to usher in the constitutional amendment/Tobago House of Assembly Bill.”
He said the party is concerned about George's "inflammatory" statements. Duke argued such an arrangement is not illegal.
“Martin George cannot show where in the THA Act that working together is illegal. I think he should seriously consider whether or not he wants to be a lawyer or political commentator.”
Duke advised George not use the law recklessly “to advance his own base desires and desires which do not coincide with the THA Act.”