Chief Secretary: Baynes’s demotion in Tobago’s best interest

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Terance Baynes. – File photo courtesy THA

TOBAGO House of Assembly (THA) Chief Secretary Farley Augustine says immediate former secretary of community development, youth development and sport Terance Baynes was demoted in a recent reshuffle of the assembly “in the best interest of Tobago and Tobagonians.”

Baynes is now the Assistant Secretary of Infrastructure, Quarries and Urban Development.

The change was announced on May 13, approximately two years after Augustine initially promised to reshuffle the THA executive. Baynes was the only full secretary to lose his portfolio in the reshuffle. He was replaced by Assemblyman for Bon Accord/Crown Point Joel Sampson.

On May 17, Augustine responded to a question on the demotion as he addressed members of the media on the island’s crime situation at his Division of Finance, Trade and the Economy conference room at the Victor E Bruce Financial Complex in Scarborough.

He said the last time he checked Act 40 of 1996, the chief secretary was bestowed with the authority to manage the executive council with the extent that the chief secretary can move members in, out and around the executive council as is required for the general development of the island.

He said the act had to be at the forefront of his mind, as, “It is not done with any malice or ill will. It is not done because one is hated and others are liked; it has nothing to do with that.”

Augustine claimed the last time the THA experienced reshuffling of an executive, it was not done for the development of Tobago or the development of Tobagonians in mind.

“It was an OJT chief secretary who wanted to make a power play on behalf of his political leader and so they buss the throat of Mr Kelvin Charles and the people associated with Mr Kelvin Charles, to bring in who they want and move out who they didn’t want, and all of that.”

Former chief secretary and leader of the PNM Tobago Council Ancil Dennis is on record calling Augustine’s recent reshuffle “null, void and ineffective.”

Dennis said the changes made “absolutely no sense,” saying Augustine dropped the ball, as Dennis claimed he could “point to at least four secretaries who have been performing worse than Terance Baynes.”

On May 17, Augustine said: “I am saying that such people, I will not take advice from, because when they had the opportunity, instead of moving people around in order to develop a greater success for the island, people were moved around in the most undemocratic fashion to be able to achieve a political end.

“In this instance, we have moved people – I met with members privately and collectively, had consultations individually and collectively as the law required before making decisions.

“The decisions I made in terms of the movement of people are actually in line with the objectives of the government and what successes we want from henceforth.”