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Rowley won’t support Tobago’s self-government bill
PNM leader Dr Keith Rowley has said the Opposition will not support the Government on legislation in the Lower House of Parliament next Wednesday to give Tobago more autonomy.
The Government needs a three-fourths majority to pass the legislation in the House of Representatives and a two-thirds majority in the Senate.
In a statement in Parliament last week, Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar said the bills would now be referred to a Joint Select Committee of Parliament when the House of Representatives sits next week.
However, speaking at a public meeting at Mason Hall on Wednesday night, Rowley told supporters because of the process adopted by the Government in pushing the legislation, the Opposition would not support it.
“I’m putting all of you on notice; I’m putting the country on notice, there will be no co-operation on Wednesday with the Government on this matter, none whatsoever, because this is the wrong way to do it,” Rowley said.
Instead, he told the Government the Opposition would support a tripartite arrangement that involved both Houses of Parliament and the Tobago House of Assembly in fresh consultations.
He said: “They could come together in some sort of a committee to conduct the required consultation across this entire country, based on all the work that has been done—and a lot of work has been done in Tobago—and that committee will carry out a consultative process and the makeup of this committee would be such that there will be proper representation by the Government, by the Opposition, by Independent Senators and by the Tobago House of Assembly majority and minority.
“They will be allowed, under an appropriate chairman, to look at this matter of looking at Tobago’s needs for internal self-government.
“We’ll give them a deadline. It could be six months but it must be a reasonable time that they could conduct the appropriate consultations and come up with a report of some kind of what the situation is.”
He added: “Such report should then come to the Tobago House of Assembly, for debate in the Assembly, and then the Cabinet could look at it, and based on that process, we will then bring to the Parliament a position which is properly arrived at and that position will then now be the subject of a debate in the Parliament and only then would they stand any chance of getting a three-fifths majority.”
On the controversy over THA deputy Chief Secretary Hilton Sandy’s “Calcutta ship” statement, Rowley said the PNM had nothing more to add on the issue.
“As leader of the PNM I took the position that it is unacceptable. It is not the PNM’s position and we repudiate it and we have nothing more to do,” he said.
He also sent a message to TOP leader Ashworth Jack that would not win them the election.
“There are those who are so glad for that. They believe that will be the election campaign in Tobago but I want to tell Ashworth Jack tonight, Sandy or no Sandy, you have questions to answer in Tobago,” he added.
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