THA Minority Leader Kelvon Morris has called on Chief Secretary Farley Augustine to reshuffle his executive and bring in “some new faces.”
Morris made the call on Thursday as he questioned whether the office of the deputy chief secretary was serving any useful purpose. The Deputy Chief Secretary is Dr Faith BYisrael.
During a news conference at his office in Scarborough, Morris claimed over the past two years, almost $10 million had been spent on salaries for staff in the office of the deputy chief secretary and $2 million was spent on rent for a building that was never used.
“We have to come to the point where we have to ask ourselves whether the office of the Deputy Chief Secretary is serving the purpose for which we were told it was supposed to serve. We have to ask ourselves whether that office of the Deputy Chief Secretary is giving us value for money,” he said.
In light of this, Morris urged Augustine to review post-haste the operations of the THA’s various divisions.
“The time has come for the chief secretary to review the functions of all the various divisions of the THA and perhaps do some reshuffling. I would say perhaps there are a number of Tobagonians outside, experienced, willing and capable, and perhaps now might be the time for us to take a true all-of-Tobago approach to make sure we get the job done by people who are capable, by people who are competent and people who are committed.”
He added, “Honourable Chief Secretary, you promised us a reshuffle since last Christmas, and I am simply asking to give the people of Tobago who are waiting to exhale, at least at your mid-term, the comfort of a reshuffle that would see some new faces that will make all of us comfortable.”
Morris said the office of the Deputy Chief Secretary has two core functions: to advance the island’s autonomy and to provide services in Trinidad for Tobagonians living in Trinidad.
“On those two core functions, the office of the Deputy Chief Secretary has failed and failed miserably. There has been nothing to advance Tobago’s autonomy.
“In fact, we have had over 20 sittings in the Assembly Legislature and through the office of the Deputy Chief Secretary, not one of those motions involved the autonomy issue.”
He again complained about the exorbitant salaries that were paid to employees, some of whom worked for more than $30,000 a month.
At a news conference earlier this month, BYisrael defended the salaries paid to the people hired by her office. She said they were in line with industry standards.
“What is important to note is that the salaries are not actually exorbitant when we look at the skills that we require, when we look at the technical capacity that is required to do some of the work that we need to do.
“It is important to note, though, that in many of the situations, in many of the names that were there, and even many of the positions that were there, although the salaries were correct, some of those individuals were part of the team when the former deputy chief secretary (Watson Duke) was there, and actually some of them left, probably before he demitted office,” BYisrael said.