Former head of the Tobago Chamber of Commerce, Demi-John Cruickshank has called for more action and less talk by the Tobago House of Assembly and central government in kickstarting Tobago’s economy. Cruickshank also called on the THA to pay contractors and business in a timely manner for goods and services supplied.
In a telephone interview on Wednesday, Cruickshank noted that the People’s National Movement Government was now three years in office but planned projects were yet to materialise for Tobago.
“They need to accelerate the sod-turning of the Sandals project to give some confidence to the people. From what we were told, they were looking at a two-year window to build and open. The government has two years again in office, what we need is for the government to say, ‘listen we are ready to sign these things, we have gone through the contract.’
“We need to stop the talking and start the action.
“We (economy) are down significantly in Tobago… the promise of the new airport terminal, the promise of the Sandal project, the promise of all these projects by the central government, and by extension the Tobago House of Assembly, have not borne any fruit as yet,” he said,
Cruickshank also noted that contractors and businessmen continue to receive late payments for goods and services supplied to the THA.
“The THA would have made some promises to the business community, especially when this Chief Secretary (Kelvin Charles) came into office, he would have said ‘the days for late payment is a thing of the past.’
“That has not come to fruition. You still have those problems and the people in the Executive Council have to understand that if a businessman is not paid on time, there are serious repercussions. You have an uncaring public sector and it is very, very frightening. We have to clean up our act,” Cruickshank said.
He also commented on the revelation by Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley at his ‘Conversations with the Prime Minister’ event at the Scarborough library that discussions held by the THA and the Airports Authority with Tobagonians on land acquisition for the new airport terminal were premature.
“I was so shocked when I heard that… that was utter craziness. The Airports Authority, which is a state agency under the Ministry of Works and Transport, came to Tobago with a joint arrangement with the Tobago House of Assembly, and showed people plans and pointed out the timeframes.
“Lo and behold, the Prime Minister comes and says this is all premature.
“I think, the head doesn’t know what the tail is doing and to me that was a fiasco. That is not good for business and investment and governance on the island,” said Cruickshank.
He also commented on a planned dry-docking of the Cabo Star from September 20 for a ten-day period.
“We should have really and truly looked at pushing the drydocking earlier because that is the time that persons would really want to stock their business places for the Divali and Christmas season.
“What we have to look at is keeping the Port Authority to its word of ten days, that’s it. The ten days usually roll over into two weeks and two weeks would usually roll over into a month, that cannot be allowed to happen, that would be chaotic and would create a serious crisis on the island,” he said.