Chief Sec removes ‘colonial’ dress code at THA buildings

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

THA Chief Secretary Farley Augustine speaks to the media at the Assembly Legislature, Scarborough last month. – Photo by Jeff K Mayers

The Tobago House of Assembly (THA) will abolish the “ridiculous” dress code at public buildings in Tobago.

Chief Secretary Farley Augustine made the announcement on Sunday during a post-Executive Council media briefing after a five-day retreat at Rovanel’s Resort and Conference Centre in Bon Accord.

Augustine said, “Effective immediately, we will be asking the Chief Administrator to send out a circular notifying a change in policy with regard to seeking services in a THA office. This is not for workers, this is for the public.”

The Progressive Democratic Patriots (PDP) deputy leader said no longer will people wearing short pants, slippers or sleeveless garments be denied service at a THA building.

“As public servants, we will all serve the people. The entities like schools and other specialised areas, they will all retain their dress code. For the general divisions of the THA we will be removing that dress-code policy. You can see a relaxing of that policy.”

Augustine said the existing policy is archaic and rooted in colonialism.”We are not the first in the Caribbean to do this. I think Jamaica did this about one or two years ago. It is about shaking off the vestiges of colonialism that we have held on to for dear life.

“No one can convince me that in the tropics we ought to turn people back because they may be wearing a slipper. That can’t be reasonable.

“The taxpayers are paying us. We, the public servants ,will dress up. We will dress professionally and serve the people however they come.”

Augustine said he had heard multiple reports of tourists coming off cruise ships being prevented from entering the Division of Tourism building in Scarborough. He said he once heard a story on Radio Tambrin about a man being debarred entry to the Board of Inland Revenue because he wore a three-quarter pants. He said the man borrowed a dress which was shorter than the three-quarter pants and was allowed in.

“That in itself speaks to the ridiculous nature of that dress code…That cannot be how we do business in the tropics. That policy is being shifted for the first time in the country, and it starts in Tobago.

“Just ensure you wear a mask.”