Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : March 29th 2017 Contents tobagotoday.co.tt March 29 - 2017
Presiding Officer Warns Duke
Minority Leader, Watson Duke drew the
ire of Presiding Officer of the Tobago House
of Assembly, Dr Denise Tsoiafat Angus, by
breaching the Sitting's Standing Orders, at
the 2nd Plenary Session of 2017-2021,
Assembly Legislature Chamber, Jerningham
At the March 23rd Sitting, during debate
on the motion, tabled by Secretary in the
Division of Infrastructure, Environment and
Quarry, Kwesi Des Vignes, to "phase out
the use of Styrofoam products in Tobago"
the Presiding Officer was forced to exercise
her official authority as Duke interrupted
the proceedings, on two occasions, without
following the Chamber's protocols.
In the first instance, Duke broke Stand-
ing Order 44 sections a and b respectively
by standing during a member's contribution
to the debate.
The Standing Orders states that: "A mem-
ber shall not interrupt another member
except rising to a point of order, whereup-
on the member, the speaker shall resume
his seat and the member interrupting shall
simply direct attention to the point which
It adds: "...Or to elucidate some matter
raised by that member in the course of his
speech, where the member in the course of
his speech where the member speaking is
willing to give way and resume his seat and
that member wishing to interrupt is called
by the chair. "
Duke stood then to point out to the
Chamber that Secretary of Tourism, Cul-
ture and Transportation, Nadine Stew-
art-Phillips was in breach of the Assembly's
Standing Order 42/6 as she was reading
from a prepared document.
"Except with the leave of the Presiding
Officer, a member shall not read his speech
but he may read extracts from written or
printed papers or books in support of his
arguments and may refresh his memory by
reference notes," Duke noted.
The Presiding Officer exercised her
authority and gave permission for Coun-
cillor Stewart -- Phillips to continue reading
the document stating: "Minority Leader, I
do give leave for the councillor to read her
maiden speech in the house, I know that
subsequently, she will do otherwise."
Later during his contribution to the
motion, Duke spoke on issues besides the
the research on this matter in my car because
I don't have an office. I had to do the research
for this debate in my car," Duke said.
The Presiding Officer cautioned Duke
and reminded him to focus on the motion.
"Member is being very repetitious and I
would ask you to focus on the motion."
Duke apologized and concluded his deliv-
ery. For this infringement, Duke was given
a slap on the wrist as Standing Order 52/1
gave the Presiding Officer the authority to
The order states that "the Presiding Offi-
cer or the Chairman of the Committee after
having called the attention of the Assembly
or the Committee respectively, to the con-
duct of a member who persists in irrelevance
or tedious repetition either on his own or
arguments used by other members in debate,
may direct him to discontinue his speech
and resume his seat."
President Anthony Carmona chats with Councillor Kwesi Des Vignes after the swearing-in
ceremony for Assemblymen
President Anthony Carmona, right, looks on as THA minority leader Watson Duke take the
oath of office at the swearing-in ceremony of Assemblymen for the 2017-2021 Session.
THA passes motion to phase out
The Tobago House of Assembly passed
a motion to phase out polystyrene foam
products on the island at its plenary sitting
The motion, which was moved by Infra-
structure Secretary Kwesi Des Vignes, sur-
rounded preserving Tobago's environmental
integrity through the phasing out of the
importation, production and use of poly-
styrene foam products and the promotion
of alternative products.
"We have to save our planet (Tobago)
from ourselves...for ourselves and for our
future," was the central statement by Des
Vignes as he delivered the introduction at
the second plenary sitting 2017.
Des Vignes said that there was need to
rethink how the environment is treated and
the habits that inform local consumption
According to the Secretary, the Depart-
ment of Environment has actively pursued
strategies and initiatives which focus on
four R's, "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Recov-
e r ."The 5th "R," now added by the Secretary
"Tobago must lead the way on this pol-
icy direction...in over 100 countries, they
have already banned polystyrene products,"
The motion comes from concerns over
the findings of recently conducted Situation
Analysis; and a Waste Characterisation Study
of the local wasteland.
Therefore, deliberations were geared at
sensitising Tobagonians to the threats poly-
styrene foam products and improper dis-
posal have on the environment, health and
the island's economy.
Styrofoam, the secretary said, because of
its non-biodegradable and non-renewable
characteristic, contributes primarily to urban
litter which threatens marine and wild life
and ultimately the health of humans.
In the first instance, caterers and suppli-
ers to the Assembly and at Assembly events
are to use alternative packaging, many of
which are already on the market.
"This motion would give us the oppor-
tunity to explore new areas in manufactur-
ing and exporting...there is big business in
alternative products for Tobagonians," the
Moreover, among other direct initiatives,
the Division of Infrastructure, Quarries and
the Environment (DIQE) would move to
table an executive note for the formation
of a multi-stakeholder committee to do
further research and devise a longer-termed
action plan in the direction.
The committee is to comprise the private
sector, environmental activists, environmen-
tal engineers and other community groups.
Further, the secretary indicated that the
Division is partnering with the Ministry of
Planning to treat with implementing legis-
lation to phase out styrofoam products in
Tobago and to forge supporting policy which
complement the successful implementation
of ecologically friendly and economically
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