“It is evident that Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar’s decision not only to reassign but to demote former Minister of Tobago Development Vernella Alleyne-Toppin is a clear indication that she (Persad-Bissessar) was dissatisfied with her handling of the Tobago Development portfolio and by extension, the Tobago House of Assembly,” the council stated in a press release.
The Council, the statement added, extends congratulations to newly appointed Minister of Tobago Development Dr Delmon Baker and hopes he would not repeat the mistakes made by his predecessor and instead seek to build a meaningful and mutually respectful relationship with the Tobago House of Assembly.
The THA is led by the PNM with Orville London, a deputy political leader of that party, being Chief Secretary. However, both Parliamentary seats are held by members of the Tobago Organisation of the People (TOP) — Dr Baker for Tobago West and Alleyen-Toppin, for Tobago East. THA elections are constitutionally due next year.
The PNM Tobago council also deemed as “interesting” the realignment of Alleyne-Toppin’s portfolio to that of Minister in the Ministry of the People. “She could do a favour to herself and the people of Tobago, if she would persuade her Minister to collaborate with the Secretary of Health and Social Services in resolving the impasse over the Tobago Public Health Authority Board.”
Minister Toppin and Minister Baker must be reminded, the PNM release stated, that the refusal of the Minister to accept the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) nominees to the Tobago Public Health Authority Board has created a situation where, for the past eight months, Tobagonians cannot be evaluated and therefore, cannot access their disability and public assistance grants and other benefits. This significantly impacts our senior citizens and the vulnerable within the community.
At the national level, the Tobago Council is of the view that the firing of National Security Minister John Sandy was a clear indication that the People’s Partnership Government’s crime initiatives, have so far, failed.
The defacto demotion of Finance Minister Winston Dookeran, the release stated, also signals that the Prime Minister, like the rest of the country is not satisfied with her own administration’s management of the country’s financial affairs.
The Prime Minister’s reshuffle is an admission, the PNM Tobago Council said, that she and her Ministers have failed the country in the critical areas of Finance, National Security, relationship with Tobago and even culture. The Tobago Council of the People’s National Movement will continue to monitor the performance of the newly reconfigured Cabinet, while remaining vigilant in protecting the rights of the island and its residents.