Terance Baynes – THA
THE newly launched Tobago Faith-Based Council will assist religious groups on the island to lobby the THA for funding when needed.
The council was launched on Thursday by the THA Division of Community Development, Youth Development and Sport at their Glen Road, Scarborough head office conference room. said for many years, he has noticed that faith-based organisations are only engaged extensively around election time and during campaigns.
He said after elections, the various stakeholders get a seat around the table without representation from faith-based organisations.
“That has bothered me for many years, faith-based organisations play a critical role in the building of any society. And so, I felt that being in this position, I would engage the executive council for us to have this faith-based council that caters for faith-based organisations in Tobago.
“And every arm of government must support faith-based organisations in whatever way they can to assist them in carrying out their mandate.”
He said that building “the greatest little island on the planet”, a mandate of the current Farley-led THA administration, cannot be done by government alone.
“There must be stakeholder input in that. And when we understand the role that faith-based organisations play in society generally, government must seek to have partnerships with faith-based organisations in a very formal way so that we can build this Tobago that we have envisaged in our minds.”
Council member Sherry-Anne Rollocks-Hackett commended Baynes on his vision.
“In times past, members of the religious community would apply to the THA for assistance of various types to better enable them to carry out their mandate to their followers.
“While that strategic approach worked to some extent, the visionary behind the activity believes that assistance should be afforded to faith-based organisations must be facilitated in a more democratic, determined, transparent, respectful and collaborative manner than what previously existed.”
Another council member, Esther Moore-Roberts, said the council comprises seven representatives of faith-based organisations across the Tobago landscape.
She said they came together in January 2022, got their letters of appointment in May 2022, and the council started down the runway even before being inaugurated in June 2022.
“This lively, dynamic group of faith-based representatives have worked together with the assistance of experienced public servants who have helped us to formulate that policy, which became operative in February 2023.”
The board will serve for two years.
The council, she said, will assess its financial allocations from the annual budget of the THA that would be appropriated to the division from the division of Finance, Trade and the Economy.
“The council’s sole responsibility is to facilitate – not suppress, not take over – facilitate faith-based organisations on these 116 square miles, that is Tobago.
“They facilitate their organisations in accomplishing their projects and programmes through the provision as well as financial appropriation but also relevant resources which may be obtained from other divisions and with the help of liaison officers.”