Black Immigrant Daily News
File photo: The Port of Scarborough, Tobago.
TOBAGO business stakeholders are calling for an urgent meeting with the THA executive to discuss the way forward. as they claim they are still experiencing the effects of the covid19 pandemic.
At a Tobago Chamber of Commerce Business Development Series, titled Financing Solutions for Business in Tobago, at the Scarborough Library on Thursday, economist Dr Vanus James, who moderated the session, asked participants to move a resolution calling for a meeting with Chief Secretary Farley Augustine and his executive.
Secretary of Food Security, Natural Resources, the Environment and Sustainable Development Nathisha Charles-Pantin, who attended the event, promised to raise the issue with Augustine.
James said the Chamber will also write formally to Augustine.
The resolution came after more than three hours of robust discussion about financial mechanisms that can be implemented to revive struggling businesses.
Panellists included political commentator and credit union expert Dr Winford James, entrepreneur Kaye Trotman and Director of Youth Development Ann-Marie De Gazon.
Many stakeholders agreed that the current acrimonious climate within the THA does not augur well for investor confidence and the building out of a meaningful strategy to assist businesses.
On December 4, 2022, Augustine and all of the THA executive members resigned from the Progressive Democratic Patriots and declared themselves independents in the assembly.
Their resignations came months after PDP political leader Watson Duke accused the administration of failing to provide financial assistance to a Roxborough group which had gone to New York to perform at several cultural events.
On Thursday, retired public servant Barry Nelson claimed that Trinidad sees Tobago mainly as an island to market its goods and services.
“Trinidad don’t see us any different and the proof in the pudding are those businesses – Carib, Angostura – you see them in Barbados, Guyana, up the islands. Have you seen them in Tobago?” he asked.
“So we in Tobago need to get our politics right. If we don’t get our politics right, on the background that government drives business, we will stay right where we are.”
He described the THA Act 40 of 1996 as an “act in progress.”
But Nelson lamented there has been no continuous review of the act and its structures over the years.
“So we just stuck in a locked barrel like crabs, and fighting among each other.”
Charles-Pantin agreed that political stability is required.
“Of course, we understood all of what led up to what is currently taking place and we will be aiming for that – political stability is needed to go forward.”
She told stakeholders they have to continue working together to solve the problem affecting businesses.
“We do not have all of the money that we want. We cannot hire every person under the Tobago House of Assembly if we want development.”
She said out of the $24 million her division received for development, $23,600,000 was for wages.
“So I have to come up with ways to monetise some of the natural assets because science and ecology is my background, agriculture is my background. So I would have been making attempts to monetise.”
She referred to the Lure Great Cocoa Experience in Goldsborough as one of her attempts to monetise the island’s natural assets.
Saying she inherited a “rundown” division, Charles-Pantin said workers were also disenchanted.
“They feel that they have been sidelined for years in terms of their creativity and ideas.”
Charles-Pantin applauded the chamber for hosting the initiative, saying Tobago has an opportunity to come together and make recommendations for the business community and THA to positively go forward.