Government will begin considering proposals from the Tobago House of Assembly for self-government on the island, starting in January.
This announcement was made by Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley earlier today (October 23, 2015) during his visit to alma mater Bishop’s High School in Mt. Marie, Scarborough.
It was Rowley’s second stop for the day after he first visited his former primary school, Mason Hall Government Primary, where, just as at Bishop’s, he was greeted with rapturous cheers and applause.
“As a Tobagonian, I have a duty to ensure that that process is completed in the shortest possible time, where Trinidad and Tobago gives Tobago the maximum autonomy that Tobago could have in the unitary state of Trinidad and Tobago,” Rowley stated.
The Prime Minister said autonomy for Tobago means greater responsibility for the island and greater control of Tobago’s affairs. It also means, he added that there will be no room to blame Trinidad, because Tobago is “laying claim to greater responsibility”. Rowley advised the students that the legacy of autonomy for Tobago will likely fall to many them in future, and that they will also need to assume their share of the responsibility.
Autonomy, he said, also means better attitudes on the island.
“We expect that as we go forward, we will see improved administration, we will see a growing economy, and we will continue to keep Tobagonians in Tobago because the opportunity to do things in Tobago that normally won’t be available in Tobago,” Rowley stated. “That’s the objective.”
He also called on Tobagonians to embrace Trinidadians who bring their expertise when they come to work on the island, as it will help to develop Tobago.
“I can tell you there are more people of Tobago parentage in Trinidad than there are people in Tobago,” Rowley said. People who could claim grandparents, great grandparents and Tobagonians, there are more of them in Trinidad than people in Tobago.
“We have to factor that when we talk about internal self-government for Tobago. We have to understand that we are part of a larger whole, but we are stronger when we are together.”
Referring to the recent double murder of attorney Richard Wheeler and his wife Grace, Rowley urged the police to find those responsible quickly.
“For heaven’s sake, find those who chop people in Tobago,” The Prime Minister said. “I don’t know where they learnt that from, but that kind of behaviour is what we would like to put behind us because we are a part of a larger world.”
Rowley also advised the students at both schools to make the best of every opportunity they get. He told them that just as he took advantage of free primary school education, and won the Bowles scholarship at Bishop’s High, which was only afforded to one student.
“I was fortunate to get it,” he said. “Because it might have been the only way that I could have gone through a university’s doors. So I’m really grateful to Dr. Bowles for that endowment that changed my life, and I hope to use it to change your life.”