“By condemning Tobagonians, and by extension many of us, to a life of being waiters, bartenders and room cleaners while management decision making, knowhow and expertise reside outside our borders” our country under Rowley’s Sandals adventure is proving our founding father palpably wrong when decades ago he proffered: “Massa day Done”.
Clearly the Sandals model is inconsistent with Williams’ philosophy that we are masters of our destiny.
Eric William in his seminal speech to party faithful was at pains to point out that “Massa Day Done” was not a racial concept but an economic one. Massa operated not in the interest of the many but for the benefit of the few – known then as the global metropolitan elite and now as the 1%.
“Not all massas were white and not all whites were massas” Williams added in support of his economic, and non racial concept.
He saw his philosophy instead as primarily an economic phenomenon, or as a plantation, where low level, menial, unskilled labor was provided by the masses who benefitted the least from the enterprise. Correspondingly high level financial, HR and other managerial functions were made, and carried out, by nonresident elites usually in their own class interest and who were paid exorbitant salaries.
In colonial times it was the “massas” who invested in the plantation and organized enterprises to meet their financial, social and other needs.
Under Rowley’s Sandals model the taxpayer provides the billions in investments, upgrading airports, retraining immigration officers to be more accommodating, providing tax incentives, limiting local access to prime beach facilities and inviting the new massas to provide the skilled labor and management competencies to run the plantation.
Eric must be bawling in his grave.
Under the Williams model by contrast local small hotels, like Rovanels and Tropikist, would be given money to upgrade facilities, helped with external advertising in UK and other metropolitan markets, and graded so tourists will know beforehand what standard services they can expect for fees paid. In addition inter-island transport will be brought up to first world standards and the crime challenge, a disincentive to tourists arrivals , will be dealt with frontally and effectively in Tobago.
Our country will benefit a thousand times more by a focused development on our small hoteliers suitably and effectively supported.
Instead we give billions, which we do not have and cannot afford, to Sandals.
Dr Rowley is yet to tell us with a straight face how much taxes will Sandals pay annually, what tax breaks are being offered, will the beaches be accessible to all citizens, what is the return on the billions invested (ROI), will locals be trained to take over managerial positions, how will our interactions with Sandals be different from the not so beneficial ones experienced in Barbados, Antigua and Barbuda and other CARICOM countries, what quantifiable spin off benefits will accrue to our economy, and the environmental impact of this investment.
This is not the time for vague PR answers by Sandals Resorts International. The time has come for our elected leadership, especially Dr Rowley, to level with us. Give us raw data and let us judge for ourselves whether our hard earned taxes are being invested prudently. We are not little children.
Dr Rowley has to be thinking of his legacy. Would his legacy be that he unwittingly promoted an antediluvian development model; rooted in backward thinking, persistent underdevelopment and systemic poverty; a model which is the antithesis of that conceived by the founder of the political party which he now leads.