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Following election defeat Govt showing some positive signs—London

Published: 
Sunday, February 10, 2013
Orville London

Following the devastating defeat in the January 21 Tobago House of Assembly (THA) election, Central Government is showing some positive signals and THA Chief Secretary Orville London hopes it can be sustained. London said he was quite pleased that Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar agreed to meet with him to hold discussions.

 

He said he wrote to her on January 29 and two days later there was a response on his desk via fax.

 

“I am quite gratified that she would have responded so quickly.

 

“In the letter she agreed to the meeting and I think it sends a very positive signal...a hopeful signal for the relationship between the Central Government and the THA.”

 

Persad-Bissessar will meet with London on February 21 at 4 pm at the Office of the Prime Minister in St Clair. Up for discussion will be a review of the process for the granting of internal self-government to Tobago; a review of the relationship between ministers of Government and secretaries in the THA; and funding for housing programmes in Tobago.

 

London, who is now serving his fourth consecutive term, spoke with the Sunday Guardian on February 1 via telephone. He said there wasn’t much time to bask in the victory of the election which saw the People’s National Movement (PNM) winning all 12 seats in the hotly contested election.

 

He said preparing for governance was now the focus since failure to deliver to the people could lead to resentment. London said, “It is going to be a very challenging period.

 

“The overall mandate was linked to great expectation.

 

“Of course, when one does not deliver, an expectation will soon turn into resentment, so we are trying to prepare ourselves in the best way we could to give to the people of Tobago.”

 

‘12-nil win re-energised the PNM’

 

The clean sweep at the polls for the PNM, he said, was an opportunity to change the dynamics of governance and nurture an environment of participatory democracy. He hopes to now engage Tobagonians in regular discussions so they can have the opportunity to voice their concerns about issues affecting them. London said, he was always confident they were going to win.

 

He said Tobagonians voted on the issues and that sets them apart from the rest of people in the country. He also said statements made by Maha Sabha secretary general Sat Maharaj about race were ridiculous and disingenuous.

 

London said the people who will know if there is racism in Tobago were the ones who visited. “Over the years, hundreds of East Indians have come here and they keep coming back.

 

“People have to live together. But more importantly, the races have to live together for generations.

 

“It is unfortunate that these statements were made.”

 

The campaigning is over and so is the mudslinging, but he said if attacked he will defend himself.

 

He said the success has impelled the party to look at governance differently.

 

London also believed that the 12-nil win had re-energised the PNM.

Impressed with Cadiz’s demeanour

 

A meeting was held between London and Minister of Tourism Stephen Cadiz recently and much to London’s delight, was productive and meaningful. Tourism is critical to Tobago’s development.

 

London said, “I was very impressed with his (Cadiz’) demeanour and level of co-operation.

 

“The foundation was set for closer collaboration and a more meaningful relationship between the THA and Central Government

 

“The signals we are getting from the Central Government are much more heartening.

 

“It is a good sign and I hope it can be sustained.”

‘Not the right time to meet with TOP’

 

As part of moving forward and executing plans for Tobago’s development, London has met with several stakeholders and even with defeated candidate Hochoy Charles whom London said had several proposals for moving Tobago forward. There are also plans to meet with several interest groups and the T&T Chamber of Commerce.

 

Asked whether he met with Ashworth Jack, London replied, “No. But I am not averse to meeting with the TOP. “I don’t want discussions just for discussion sake. “I must be sensitive to what is happening in their camp right now. “I have concluded that now is not exactly the time for that type of discussions.”

 

Plans are afoot to start holding meetings in different communities to gather feedback about issues and concerns. London said his team now had an opportunity to involve groups and individuals to make information available to them. 

 

He said he would suggest to the chamber that each month an electoral district be chosen to highlight their concerns and engage them in discussions. “In that electoral district we will do two things: We will discuss issues and concerns specifically to that district, and then we discuss one division. 

 

For example, we go to Canaan/ Bon Accord and you discuss that area but you may also discuss health and social services. “So at the end of a year you would have done all the electoral districts and over a four-year period you would have touched each district at least three times.” 

 

London said because there wasn’t an opportunity for question time in the House, he was hoping to make arrangements to get feedback/questions from the public and have them addressed through statements in the House by secretaries. “We have an opportunity and we want to grasp it.”

 

THA to go to people in the communities

Plans are afoot to start holding meetings in different communities to gather feedback about issues and concerns. London said his team now had an opportunity to involve groups and individuals to make information available to them. 
He said he would suggest to the chamber that each month an electoral district be chosen to highlight their concerns and engage them in discussions. “In that electoral district we will do two things: We will discuss issues and concerns specifically to that district, and then we discuss one division. 
For example, we go to Canaan/ Bon Accord and you discuss that area but you may also discuss health and social services. “So at the end of a year you would have done all the electoral districts and over a four-year period you would have touched each district at least three times.” 
London said because there wasn’t an opportunity for question time in the House, he was hoping to make arrangements to get feedback/questions from the public and have them addressed through statements in the House by secretaries. “We have an opportunity and we want to grasp it.”
 

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