THA Chief Secretary Orville London has accused the Central Government of "unjustified and unwarranted attempts to undermine the authority of the THA.
In his New Year's Day address, the Chief Secretary noted "over the past 12 months, Tobagonians have endured, survived and even made some progress during a challenge and often turbulent period."
The THA Chief Secretary who is seeking to extend his stay in office as Chief Secretary for 16 years with a THA election pending visualises that "the next 12 months the stakes will be much higher and we could be involved in battles that will determine the future of the island and the quality of life of its people for many decades."
London in his address, dedicated 2012 as the year in which Tobago achieves the level of Internal Self Government for which it has been striving since the era of APT James. He revealed that "the Bills which represent the recommendations and aspirations of Tobagonians have been transmitted to the Cabinet and Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago."
However, he questioned the government's commitment to the principle of autonomy for Tobago and additional powers to the THA because of statements and postures from some government Ministers. London cited a number of areas to justify his point, such as, the Minister of Arts and Multiculturalism attempts to instruct the THA on matters which the THA has jurisdiction, the bullying of the management of the Magdalena Grand to cancel the legitimate THA booking and the decision of the Ministry of the People and Social Development and Cabinet to disregard a 30 year old practice and appoint their own Tobago local Public Assistance Board while THA recommendations to the Board are before the Ministry.
The THA leader felt that "those recent statements and actions are consistent with the treatment meted out to the THA by some Central Government Ministries and decision makers over the past 18 months.
Despite the situation with the Central Government, the Chief Secretary pointed to areas of achievement by his administration. He mentioned improvements in the Health sector such as state of the art health facilities at Charlotteville, Scarborough and Canaan. He also lauded the expected commissioning of the Scarborough laundry and the much anticipated state of the art of operations at the new hospital.
London also showered high praise on the extensive road works being inspired by the leadership of the Deputy Chief Secretary Hilton Sandy, who is also the Infrastructure and Public Utilities Secretary. The THA public assistance programme and the expanding business assistance to young Tobagonians were also emphasised by the Chief Secretary in his address. The fact that the lone Industrial Estate will soon have its first functionalising factory was not forgotten by the THA leader in his New Year's message. He said, "Tobagonians need to accept that in a changing dynamic world on uniformed forces of the traditional areas of study, may lead to frustration when they have to compete for dwindling job opportunities. He urged young Tobagonians to "access all relevant information, seek out all available advice and consider carefully before embarking on a career path."
The achievement of Kelly-Ann Baptiste at the World Athletics Championships and the strides made by a variety of Tobago young sports stars were all hailed by the Chief Secretary. The work of the THA in agriculture, housing, and the communities were given focus by the Chief Secretary in his address.