Crime economist Anselm Richards is hoping the Government will make a “definitive announcement” on internal self-government for Tobago in the October 5 budget.
The legislation was before a Joint Select Committee when it lapsed.
Saying the issue has been bandied about for the past 58 years, Richards said the issue is long overdue.
“Therefore, this Government has to demonstrate, in its budgetary arrangements, that it serious about according the people of Tobago the right to determine their own destiny,” he told Newsday.
Richards said the budget should provide funding for the operationalisation of the legislation.
“There should be a line item in the budget to provide some funding for that exercise to happen because the passing of the law is one thing in Parliament but the operationalisation and implementation of the new arrangement requires institutional transformation and development in Tobago, both at the technological level and the human resource level. So, they should start the process by putting in a budget item for that,” he said.
Richards said the Government should also start discussions about developing an intergovernmental affairs department within the THA and Office of the Prime Minister to regulate, negotiate and co-ordinate such arrangements “for ease of functionality.”
The bill to grant Tobago self-governance requires a special majority.
He said increasing gun violence in Tobago must also be addressed in the national security component of the presentation.
“We have seen a spike in gun violence because most of the murders for this year, even last year, were committed with the use of firearms. And, therefore, we have to tighten the inter-island trade.”
In this regard, Richards said the Government should provide for a X-ray scanner to check vehicles being transported on the seabridge.
He said the detection and technological capabilities of port and airport security personnel also need to be strengthened.
Given the socio-political unrest in neighbouring Venezuela, Richards said the Coast Guard also has to have a deeper and more effective presence around Tobago.
In addressing the covid19 pandemic, Richards said money should be allocated for human resource development on the island.
He said the “new normal” demands a shift in human resource capabilities from the pre-school to tertiary level.
“There should be funding to support the digital infrastructure for the kind of learning that must be provided, especially for parents and households in the east of Tobago where the poverty is very high.”
Richards said Tobago is also in need of an infectious disease unit within the health system, post-covid19.
“This will add to our tourism product because if we are able to present to the national community that there is an infectious disease facility, properly staffed and equipped, then persons coming to the island will be comforted in the fact that we have an institution to deal with any infection we may pick up.”
In the area of tourism, Richards said resources should be provided to diversify the island’s economy.
“Tourism right now is dead. So, therefore, resources have to be put in place to make the transition from tourism to agriculture, manufacturing and services. That is a significant demand in this fiscal package.”
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