THA Chief Secretary Orville London will meet Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar in a month’s time to follow up discussions they had in Tobago last week on the governance of the island.
The two will continue discussions on amendments to the THA Act No 40 of 2996 and the Constitution, directorship of the Tobago Regional Health Authority (TRHA), representation on national boards and committees and security including the Tobago Police Bill, construction of and safety of Tobago fisherfolk.
Persad-Bissessar and London met at the Rovanel’s Resort on Thursday when discussions on these issues were started. In an interview London described the 30-minute meeting as “cordial and quite productive. We dealt with the issues in a very professional manner and in a manner that gives us some comfort and some hope”.
On the issue of the TRHA London said he had indicated to the Prime Minister that he disagreed with her in relationship to both the remit of the Minister of Tobago Development with respect to the authority and also the process. “I think the Prime Minister was frank enough to indicate to me that she is willing to look at the legal advice which I have got and she would hold her decision until she has seen the legal advice, she is prepared to look at our position.”
London said he did indicate that for the past ten years since he has been Chief Secretary that the relationship which he had with the Prime Minister was one which he felt was in keeping with the tenets of the THA Act and the spirit behind the Act. He noted that the Prime Minister had no desire to commit herself but she was willing to look at it and he was quite comfortable with that.
“I think what was quite comforted was that the Prime Minister did make the commitment that the TRHA nominees will get to Cabinet without any further involvement from the THA. I did mention to the Prime Minister that one of the reasons why I was adamant throughout that I would not send it through the Minister of Tobago Development was because I was aware that the Minister while the Minority Leader has been saying that she should not interfere, that the Minister had in fact prepared a list which she was going to send to Cabinet and therefore I could not take the chance of having the THA list sent to the Minister when I knew the intent of the Minister was not to do anything but to have her list sent to Cabinet.”
London said there were some committees the THA do not have representation where in the interest of good governance it should be so.
On the issue of amendments to the THA Act and the Constitution to give more autonomy to Tobago, London said he expressed his concerns about the process for the reform of the Constitution and a review of the THA Act. “I drew to her my concerns to have going to parliament two documents, a documents that is already before Cabinet and the document that will come to Cabinet when the THA process is completed.
“The Prime Minister gave me the assurance that she will make no decision on that until we speak, hopefully within the next month so at least until such time as we speak the decision about having a White Paper coming out of that single document, that decision is not going to be instituted. She did not make a commitment that she will not send it out but she did make a commitment that she will take no further action until we meet again and she indicated that it could be early as a month from now,” London said.
He added: “I think that I am not dissatisfied with the way things went and I am saying that at least we could look forward that nothing untoward is likely to happen or no firm decision will be made until such time as we meet.
The Chief Secretary summed up the meeting thus: “Coming out of this I think the TRHA Board will go before Cabinet and that no decision will be made on the reform of the THA Act and the Constitution with respect of that document before Cabinet until such time as the Prime Minister and I meet.”