Diane Hadad

Tobago’s politicians must be mature enough to end the current Tobago House of Assembly(THA) legislative impasse without legislative changes in Parliament.

This is the view of the Tobago Division of the Trinidad and Tobago Chamber of Industry and Commerce (TTCIC).

The chamber finally broke its silence on the situation involving the 12 elected Assemblymen’s inability to elect a Presiding Officer to reconstitute the Assembly.
The People’s National Movement and Progressive Democratic Patriots won six seats each in the THA January 25, 2021 elections. They met on three occasions to decide on a presiding officer, but all attempts resulted in a deadlock.

Speaking to Guardian Media on February 16, the chamber’s head Diane Hadad said: “They (Assemblymen) should have a gentleman’s agreement, agree who should be the presiding officer and the Chief Secretary. This is only to take place to ensure we return to the polls immediately.”

According to the THA’s Act #40 of 1996, the presiding officer presides over the election of the chief secretary. If there is a tie, the presiding officer has a casting vote.

The chief secretary and Prime Minister indicates to the president when the elections should be held.

” We cannot sit with this six/six because the island is going nowhere very fast…Are we prepared to sit maturely in a room and come up with something workable? Are we prepared to see the bigger picture that is the interest of the people? It’s not about your presiding officer or my presiding officer. It is about a presiding officer. Can we find a presiding officer that will decide on interest to the people of Tobago?”

Reminded that Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley proposed legislative changes to Parliament last week to break the deadlock and increase the number of electoral districts from 12 to 15, Hadad said the changes may take too long.

” The already stalemated island in terms of business is at a breaking point. We need the changes now. What if we go to 15 seats and independents win some seats, are we not back to the starting point?”

Reporter: Camille McEachnie