Tobagonians will have one last opportunity, this weekend, to have their say before the draft bill for the island’s autonomy is sent to Cabinet by October 31.
The convention, will take place on Sunday (October 2) at the Lowlands Multipurpose Community Centre from 3 p.m. The public will be updated on the progress of the draft bill, and Tobagonians will have the opportunity to comment on its contents and provide recommendations.
The document is seeking to provide self-governance to Tobago via the Constitution Amendment Bill. The draft bill will detail Tobago’s requirements for a system of governance on the island that provides the power to make law, executive power similar to that of Cabinet, and a clearly defined area of jurisdiction, as well as adequate resources to fund its plans and programmes.
Chief Secretary Orville London said the input of Tobagonians to the draft bill is critical.
“The issue is bigger than just Tobago’s autonomy. It is about our future and the way we develop as an island,” London said. “That’s why this final public consultation is a crucial part of this process, so we are inviting everyone to come out and make their contributions.”
After the convention, final amendments to the draft bill will be considered before it is presented to the Assembly Legislature for discussion in its October 27 sitting. The document will then be submitted to Cabinet for consideration by the end of October.
This draft took into consideration the mandate handed down by the public at the last convention, where 11 demands were identified based on public consultations.
This included equality of status for Tobago and Trinidad, the responsibility for fiscal policy in Tobago, the removal of Cabinet dominance over the THA and the definition and delineation of the boundaries of each island.
The Forum has hosted several consultations on Tobago’s demands for autonomy, including the business community, the Tobago Chapter of the Lawyers Association, trade unions and the general public, in the process of preparing the draft bill.
The public can download a copy of the draft from www.that.gov.tt or call the Autonomy Secretariat at 639 3421 ext. 2028.
Resolution of the Signal Hill Convention, September 14, 2014
Be it Resolved that this Convention of the People of Tobago, meeting here at the Signal Hill Secondary School, today, September 14th 2014:
A. Agrees and asserts that the issues fundamental to Democratic Self Government for Tobago include, inter alia;
- Responsibility of the Tobago Administration to formulate and implement policy on all matters affecting the lives of people resident in Tobago
- Equality of Status between the islands and a constitutional, legislative and administrative framework reflecting such equality
- A Federal – Type System of governance
- Definition of the boundaries of each island
- Jurisdiction and control over economic resources in Tobago’s defined geographic space
- Freedom for the Tobago Administration to make laws to govern Tobago
- Ability to borrow to fund Tobago’s Development
- Authority and responsibility in the Tobago Administration to formulate and implement fiscal policy, including taxation measures
- Removal of Cabinet dominance and over-ride of decisions made in Tobago by the Tobago Administration
- Legal framework providing for the wider participation of society in the decision making process of the Tobago Administration
- Management and control of the inter-island transportation systems to reside in Tobago
B. Do hereby authorise, instruct and mandate the Forum of Political Leaders to take all proper and necessary steps to achieve and secure Democratic Self Government to Tobago in the shortest possible time
C. Requires that the Forum ensures that the Self Government secured for Tobago includes the appropriate provisions to treat with issues agreed and asserted in A (I to XI) above.