Chief Secretary Orville London is hoping to make some headway on Tobago’s push for autonomy in the next round of talks on the issue, scheduled for May 6.
The Tobago team, led by London, had its second meeting in Port of Spain with the Central Government committee, led by Minister of Arts and Multiculturalism Dr. Lincoln Douglas, on April 15. The Chief Secretary, though, was not satisfied with the pace of the self-governance negotiations.
London attributed this lack of progress to the fact that the teams “got bogged down in defending positions rather than focussing on areas of consensus and focussing on the general objectives and how those objectives could be achieved”.
But there is room for optimism, London said, telling reporters: “We have come up with a process which I hope would be more progressive.”
He said the teams agreed that each side would provide a report on its position and a list of issues that it considers critical, as well as a rationale for both, by Monday (April 27).
The issues raised can be discussed at the next meeting, so that the focus will rest on the issues and not the teams’ defence of their positions.
“Some minimal progress was made but I think that we could have done better and I am hoping that when we meet again we would make progress,” he said.
In addition to London, the Tobago team comprises Tobago Platform of Truth (TPT) leader Hochoy Charles, former Minister of Government and ex-Parliamentarian Stanford Callender, representing the People’s National Movement (PNM), and former THA Chief Administrator Allan Richards. Senior Council Gilbert Peterson and attorney Ingrid Melville are their advisers.
The Central Government team includes Tobago Development Minister Dr. Delmon Baker, Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources Ganga Singh and Food Production Minister Devant Maharaj. They are being advised by Tobago Organisation of the People (TOP) leader Ashworth Jack and Tobagonian Senior Council, Christo Gift.