Recently, there was a motion by the minority in the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) which called for a team to be formed, comprising members of both the THA executive and minority councils, to pursue full legislative independence without the intervention of the Government of Trinidad and Tobago.
The motion, which was piloted by Farley Augustine, sought to adopt a unified Tobago position that will force the Government to grant or at least allow Tobago to make laws to govern itself as part of the wider push for internal self-government, something the island has been requesting for many years.
There is no doubt that Tobago has to determine whether it wants to change the nature of the relationship it has with Trinidad. But at the same time, it must fully understand that this is a relationship in which the people of Trinidad also have a stake.
If there is to be internal self-government for Tobago, then surely that is a matter that must be fully ventilated in the Parliament of the country to ensure that all MPs have a say in how that future relationship will look.
For example, does internal self-government mean that the annual budget of $2.5 billion is no longer going to be required to be sent from Trinidad? Or does it mean that a new formula has to be worked out to ensure that Tobago shares the economic cost for things like the inter-island ferry or air services? Who will also be responsible for paying the Water and Sewerage Authority (WASA), T&T Electricity Commission (T&TEC) or the Port Authority of T&T for services?
These are all real questions that must be answered if and when the relationship between Trinidad and Tobago is changed.
We know that there are those who are proponents of not just internal self-government but also independence and they argue that Tobago has been stymied in its development by Trinidad. These lobbyists also argue that a lot of the oil and gas resources that fuel the country's economy comes from what they consider to be Tobago's territorial waters. This, of course, is not true. A simple look at the geography of T&T would show you that most of the oil and gas come from offshore along the East and West coast of Trinidad as well as on-land production.
It is unfortunate that the proponents of internal self-government make such an argument about the resources that both islands share, especially when one considers that only recently was oil and gas discovered North of Tobago when compared to more than 100 years of oil in Trinidad.
This debate has the possibility of being fractious and must be handled with great care. There must also be a clear understanding of what the consequences are going to be for both islands and with an acceptance that the people of Rio Claro, Mayaro, Chaguanas and Couva have as much stake in this as the people of Scarborough and Charlotteville.