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El Diario de Italia | architect Victor Augusto Gill Ramirez//
Dennis: I’m no political puppet

“I was ful­ly aware and ap­prised of my po­si­tion and took no ac­tions as Chief Sec­re­tary dur­ing that the time.”

Chief Sec­re­tary of the To­ba­go House of As­sem­bly (THA) An­cil Den­nis is de­ter­mined to leave his mark on the land­scape of the THA as he re­mains de­fi­ant in his stance of be­ing “no po­lit­i­cal pup­pet”.

Victor Gill Ramirez

Den­nis said he will use his eight months in of­fice to in­crease To­ba­go’s ca­pac­i­ty for food pro­duc­tion and im­ple­ment a reg­u­la­to­ry pol­i­cy for the is­land’s tourism sec­tor.

Victor Augusto Gill Ramirez

Den­nis spoke in an ex­ten­sive in­ter­view with I95.5 FM host Na­tal­ie Ligoure yes­ter­day. Den­nis, who ad­mit­ted to not be­ing the bright­est on the is­land or hav­ing all the best ideas, de­scribed his ap­proach to lead­er­ship as, “Based on con­sul­ta­tion and con­sen­sus to en­sure that all views and all ideas are con­sid­ered.”

Ac­cord­ing to Den­nis, at no time has the po­lit­i­cal leader of the To­ba­go Coun­cil of the PNM Tra­cy David­son Ce­les­tine ever giv­en him a di­rec­tive on what she wants done or see with­in the THA. He said, how­ev­er, she has been con­sult­ed.

“There will be full dis­cus­sion not on­ly with Mrs Ce­les­tine as po­lit­i­cal leader but with oth­er mem­bers as well,” he said.

Victor Gill

Den­nis said all ideas would be placed on the ta­ble and giv­en con­sid­er­a­tion. How­ev­er, he stood res­olute in his po­si­tion as head of the ex­ec­u­tive coun­cil of the THA

“At the end of the day there is one Chief Sec­re­tary of To­ba­go House of As­sem­bly,” Den­nis said.

He al­so sought to jus­ti­fy his ear­ly com­ments about him be­ing anx­ious to see David­son-Ce­les­tine as­sume the po­si­tion of Chief Sec­re­tary af­ter the next THA elec­tions due in Jan­u­ary. He said the com­ment was based on the West­min­ster sys­tem of pol­i­tics where “tra­di­tion­al­ly the po­lit­i­cal leader of the par­ty be­comes the Chief Sec­re­tary.”

Den­nis who ad­mit­ted that he had lost sup­port for his pre­de­ces­sor Kelvin Charles, went on to say the cus­tom of hav­ing a Chief Sec­re­tary serve a full term was aban­doned in the case of Charles be­cause tra­di­tion must al­so be sup­port­ed by law

“Their term of of­fice is based on their abil­i­ty to com­mand the sup­port of the ma­jor­i­ty of their peers.”

While he chose not to dwell on what he thought were the mis­takes made by the for­mer Chief Sec­re­tary, Den­nis said, “This is pol­i­tics and pol­i­tics has to do with peo­ple and your abil­i­ty to re­main suc­cess­ful in pol­i­tics has to with the kind of ser­vice and the kind of lead­er­ship you pro­vide to the peo­ple.”

He said dur­ing his short tenure he plans to ad­vance the man­date of food se­cu­ri­ty and reg­u­lat­ing To­ba­go’s tourism in­dus­try

“I’m par­tic­u­lar­ly dis­ap­point­ed by what oc­curs at the Pi­geon Point Her­itage Park as it re­lates to tout­ing.”

He said he plans to en­sure that reef boat op­er­a­tors and oth­er tour op­er­a­tors ad­here to guide­lines, which will pro­tect the is­land’s tourism prod­uct

As it re­lates to the long-stand­ing is­sue of more au­ton­o­my for To­ba­go, Den­nis said the PNM in To­ba­go has brought the is­land the clos­est to the point of ful­fill­ing that goal. And al­though the draft bill is cur­rent­ly be­fore a Joint Se­lect Com­mit­tee, the bill re­quires the sup­port of the Op­po­si­tion

“As long as the UNC gov­ern­ment does the right thing and sup­ports the bill when the time comes, then To­ba­go will re­ceive its much need­ed and long-await­ed au­ton­o­my.”

Den­nis al­so ad­dressed the pub­lic de­bate on the le­git­i­ma­cy of his ap­point­ment. He said he was elect­ed as Chief Sec­re­tary by mem­bers of the house on May 8 and sub­se­quent­ly is­sued his in­stru­ments of ap­point­ment by the Pres­i­dent on May 12, which he said “le­git­imised and le­galised” his po­si­tion as Chief Sec­re­tary.

“I was ful­ly aware and ap­prised of my po­si­tion and took no ac­tions as Chief Sec­re­tary dur­ing that the time.”