Retired head of the public service Reginald Dumas has raised eyebrows over President Christine Kangaloo’s decision to boldly call for support of Tobago’s journey to autonomy.
During her inaugural visit to Tobago on Wednesday, Kangaloo expressed her support for the move.
Speaking to Guardian Media last evening, Dumas noted that the issue of autonomy for Tobago is highly political and that it was surprising that the President would involve herself in this matter.
“I agree that it’s surprising that the President would get involved in a matter where on the face of it, it’s so highly political. But, maybe we have a different kind of President now and we will see what’s happening,” he said.
While Dumas agreed with the need for autonomy in Tobago, he raised concerns about the lack of clarity on what aspects of autonomy were being discussed.
“I think the President may have put herself at odds with the Government by making this statement and I don’t know quite what she means when she says autonomy,” he added.
He noted that the Joint Select Committee on this matter had recommended that the powers to make laws should remain with the Parliament, which could pose difficulties for Tobago’s self-governance.
“One of the things that Tobago wants in terms of self-governance, as I am one of those who would like to see internal self-government, is the power to make laws now for Tobago. If that is not to be in the autonomy bill, or whatever we finally have, that could cause some difficulties,” he explained. Dumas also noted that the Government’s position on self-government and autonomy has been mixed over the years. He stressed the need for clarity on what is meant by internal self-government and what aspects of it are being discussed.
“I’m not sure the Government of Trinidad and Tobago has given its position on self-government over the years, have not been too keen on the idea of self-government, and this started with (Dr) Eric Williams.
“I know what’s in my mind and I have an idea of what was in the mind of ANR Robinson because it’s a matter I discussed with him over the years. But I can’t speak for the Parliament of Trinidad and Tobago. I don’t know what’s in their mind.
“If it is that we are going to use the words in the Joint Select Committee report which specifically excludes (the) power of any administration in Tobago to make laws, then you wonder (about) the nature of this internal self-government. We shall see,” Dumas said.