At the government meeting held in Mt. Lambert last Friday, Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley expressed that special attention was being paid to the Tobago economy, particularly development of its Tourism Sector. He said focus was being placed on construction of the Sandals Hotel and the Tobago Airport Terminal to put Tobago in a position to compete with the best in the region in making Tourism a revenue earner.
These plans will however take years to implement and the reality is that the Tobago economy is currently being sorely neglected.
In a Guardian article dated Saturday June 23rd 2018, Chairman of the Tobago Division of the Trinidad & Tobago Chamber of Industry and Commerce, Claude Benoit is quoted as saying, ‘Tobago is in intensive care and needs help urgently”. He went on to say that Tobago was not benefitting from the so-called turnaround of the economy and that the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) was failing the island. Most importantly was his appeal for an injection of funding to prevent further closure of businesses and hundreds of millions of dollars in losses.
It is no secret that the government with its poor handling of the sea-bridge issues has contributed to Tobago’s economic decline. What is worse is the blind defence by the two Tobago MPs of government’s bad decisions. Statements of “Tobago is not suffering” and “the availability of almond milk and yogurt in groceries”, signalling a reliable supply of goods on the island are delusional, unpatriotic and unacceptable.
To add insult to injury, the non-action of the THA to lobby for assistance from central government for the Tobago business sector is disenchanting and a betrayal to the Tobago people.
Instead we have millions of dollars being spent annually on the Tobago Jazz festival with no revenues being generated, the issue of the missing $10 million stolen from the THA accounts meant for Virgin Atlantic Airways and no update on investigations or any release on a promised audit report.
Again I call upon Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley to get his government’s priorities in order and show some compassion and understanding for Tobago. I implore him to meet with the Tobago business community and other stakeholders and find a way to help them save their businesses from closure.