Opposition senator Shamfa Cudjoe defends THA spending patterns
Opposition Senator Shamfa Cudjoe says the Government’s Green Paper on Constitutional Reform, which includes provision for internal self-government for Tobago, was effectively a form of modern-day slavery and will not be supported in Parliament. Cudjoe said this in her contribution to yesterday’s Senate debate on the 2013 People’s Partnership’s $58.4 billion national budget presented by Finance Minister Larry Howai hours earlier.
Towards the end of Cudjoe’s hour-long contribution, the Tobago-based senator said the Government seemed intent on bringing for approval “this Green Paper which they know the Tobago people do not want, Madame Vice President.” The Green Paper was prepared following public consultations by a Cabinet-appointed Committee which comprised political analyst Hamid Ghany, attorney Martin George and Justice Minister and attorney Christlyn Moore (before she was appointed minister).
Cudjoe said the Opposition People’s National Movement which controls the Tobago House of Assembly collected a 6,000-strong signed petition and submitted it to the committee. “Tobago has already stood up and objected to the provisions of the Green Paper and it seems to be the plot of the Government to bring it to the Parliament and the People’s National Movement is not going to settle for any sub-standard provision.”
She said this would especially be so “where the cover says internal self-government but the inside screams modern-day slavery. We are not prepared to vote for that,” Cudjoe added to sustained desk-thumping from her Opposition colleagues. She then told Government MPs: “If you don’t give us what we want, how we want it, we would determine what would be done. We Tobagonians are fighters, we are born fighters.” Leader of Government Business in the Senate, Water Resources and the Environment Minister Ganga Singh shouted: “You’re declaring war?” Cudjoe quickly responded: “No,no,no, never, never, never, not even secession, I am not talking secession.”
Cudjoe insisted: “We are going to stand up for what we want and we are going to until the victory is won.” Cudjoe stressed: “We would not settle for anything sub-standard. We would not be victimised or made slaves in our own space by any United National Congress Government.” Cudjoe said the THA was not afraid of any investigation into the controversial multi-million dollar THA Administrative Complex. This followed calls by Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar for the project to be halted pending completion of investigations by the AG, the DPP and the Integrity Commission.