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In The Spotlight


When observing best practice pertaining to governance, the issue of relationships between various sectors is always a talking point. Specifically observing the linkages among the public sector, private sector and civil society must become a primary focus. In our quest to understand and appreciate how our governance system can more effectively encompass partnerships, We at Environment Tobago must take a critical look at existing systems.

In the case of Tobago, the responsible organization is the House of Assembly. They have full remit of the island and are outfitted with 11 Divisions, many Departments and several agencies .
I think you get the idea. Having said that, there have been significant strides in the past (5 years) geared towards meaningful discussions, forums and signed agreements among the public sector, private and civil society. One initiative that was born out of a need for sustainability is the Tobago Environmental Partnership. Environment Tobago played a pivotal role in developing this.

Forward movement is always welcome.
There are also major gaps that can be identified in the system of governance and general observation of international standards and best practices, as it relates to goal 17 of the SDG’s.
An example of such would be the Tobago Tourism Agency. An entity that was launched in 2017 with a view of charting the way forward. Indeed Ii is now in the process of revamping branding and re-presentation of Tobago's tourism product.
The approach of course would have created an opening for a Public Public partnership (with the Division Tourism THA). When examining the scope of responsibilities mandated to such an entity, it comes up as substantial - quite.

Which leads us to ask the following:
• How is such an entity that is entrusted with a budget and responsibilities at the expense of the taxpayers’ dollar is run effectively?
• Does the established structure allow for partnerships to be continuously developed and incorporated into the governance structure?
• Is international best practice being observed in running the agency?

One must admit, these are crucial pieces of the puzzle that require a response from the ‘powers that be’. Recently at a cabinet joint select committee forum, questions were raised about the auditing and submission in general of the Tobago Tourism Agency over the period of (2017-2019/2020). Noteworthy gaps in the submission of information pertaining to audits were cited as a reason for concern.
This along with the issue of no internal audit system or appointed audit unit by the Division of Tourism of the Tobago House of assembly, to treat specifically with the agency. (for full view of the entire session that transpired)
In this instance, we are interested in good governance, plain and simple. Of course in keeping with the SDG’s (SDG17) In particular. We can use the gaps and questions raised, to of make the following recommendations:
• Change in appointment criteria and philosophy:
In appointing members of the board of directors for The Tobago Tourism Agency. This can be achieved by engaging private sector, and civil society representatives and individuals. People from various sectors as having expertise. A coalition of the competent and the willing so to speak.

• By extension this creates an avenue for various perspectives and objective thinking and contributions, as opposed to having a solely public sector narrative in the decision making processes that exist within such an entity.

• Frequent Public Consultations:
More specifically stakeholder consultations which are geared towards engaging the civil society and private sector entities.
This approach would be not just geared towards being beneficial towards entities such as the Tobago Tourism Agency, but strengthening ties across all sectors. Out of this, more productive and meaningful content would be created and placed in the hands of those that are responsible for the governance of Tobago.

In the final analysis, we can say that effective governance internally for Tobago would then result in the island displaying that there is the capacity to be an example to the region. Neighbouring “small island”, English speaking Caribbean jurisdictions can see a beacon of hope based on this organic blend of good governance, philosophical adjustments, and an attentive ear to what contributors have to say from the private sector and civil society stakeholder base.

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