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Executive Council doing work of THA
While the Tobago House of Assembly has been dissolved to facilitate the upcoming election and there is no meeting of the assembly, the Executive Council remains on the job, running day-to-day business. “The business of the assembly continues as normal. The Executive Council continues to meet every Wednesday morning, which is followed by a news conference,” a source close to the THA said.
The source explained the respective THA secretaries remain on the job until a new assembly is elected. The new assembly will be sworn in after the January 21 election. With the October 25 dissolution of the assembly there is no longer a Minority Leader, the position previously held by Ashworth Jack.
The THA was established in 1980 by an Act of Parliament. That legislation was amended in 1996. It followed a campaign for internal self-government led by former prime minister and president ANR Robinson. Before then, Tobago was governed by a county council, which had limited powers and responsibilities.
Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar is expected to present two bills in Parliament for debate today to amend the constitution and to allow for a system of internal self-governance for the island.
The THA’s authority
The THA is governed by Act No 40 of 1996. It provides for “the membership, powers, and functions of the Tobago House of Assembly and its Executive Council and matters incidental thereto." The act provided for 12 elected assemblymen, four councillors and a presiding officer, who may or may not be an assemblyman or a councillor.
The THA meets as necessary to debate assembly and private motions. When government motions are approved in the assembly they are taken to Parliament for approval of rejection. Bills are not debated in the assembly. During the debates Hansard reporters record the proceedings. As in the Parliament, members of the public are allowed to enter to witness the proceedings, which take place at the Assembly Hall, Jerningham Street, in Scarborough.
In the executive council, the Chief Secretary presides as chairman. The Chief Secretary may also attend meetings of the Cabinet if invited for that purpose.
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