Do not be an exchange

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FILE PHOTO: A backhoe offloads large pieces of stones at the Nordberg Crushing Plant at the Studley Park Quarry on the Windward Road, Tobago, in November 2020. –

The Innovative Democratic Alliance (IDA) is calling on the current THA administration to do better in demonstrating change and not fall into being an “exchange.”

The IDA’s statement comes on the heels of the appointment of political commentator Dr Winford James as deputy chairman of the Studley Park Enterprises Ltd (SPEL) board.

James is the brother of Trevor James, the THA’s Secretary of Infrastructure, Quarries and Urban Renewal, the division responsible for the Studley Park Quarry. He is among 11 committee members appointed for a year to oversee the quarry’s operations.

In a press release on Wednesday, the organisation said it is disappointed by what it said was yet another broken campaign promise by the Progressive Democratic Patriots (PDP), pointing at the PDP’s intent to “fix the nepotism and corruption that they absolutely knew was taking place previously.”

The release said: “The IDA holds firm to the position that it is not acceptable to use precedence of obvious wrongdoing as a reason to do the same. If this argument persists, then on December 6, Tobagonians did not get the change they voted for but instead got an ‘exchange,’ as ‘Leh we fix dis,’ is now, ‘Let’s do this.’”

The IDA said, while Tobago is a small place where everyone is related and there is minimal capacity available on the island in answering the call to be of service to the people of Tobago, there must be better ways to manage than giving positions as rewards to family and party supporters.

“The path to selecting a board goes through several processes, which most likely included recommendations by the line secretary, endorsement by the political leader, party chairman and the Chief Secretary, and ultimately collectively approved by all secretaries at the Executive Council, which is chaired by the Chief Secretary.”

It added that IDA echoed the general concerns of Tobagonians at the gross conflict of interest in James’ appointment where he is to be supervised by his brother Secretary Trevor James.

“If this situation is not nepotism in reality, it is at least so in perception and has the potential for corrupt practices to emanate. Therefore, it is truly surprising, and disheartening at the very least, that this issue of conflict was not identified and addressed prior to the appointment.”

This entire situation begs the question, the IDA said, “What else is being fumbled at the table?”

The release added: “We continue to stand with right-minded and caring Tobagonians and residents of Tobago, watching and waiting for Tobago to be fixed while working towards building a better future for all.”

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