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Sunday 26 May 2019
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Charles: Focus on tourism, agriculture, agro-processing in 2019

“Tobago development is in very good hands,” Chief Secretary Kelvin Charles said last Thursday in his contribution to debate on a motion to have the Assembly Legislature accept Executive Council measures to manage Tobago’s affairs for fiscal 2019 in the context of a $2.2 billion allocation from the national budget.

The motion was moved by Finance Secretary Joel Jack at the Chamber in Scarborough.

Charles, who criticised the contribution of Minority Leader Watson Duke on the motion as “a set of tedious repetition,” reiterated that upon his administration assuming office, developmental goals were identified for agriculture, tourism, manufacturing based on “a robust education system, a dynamic health sector, a reformed public service and of course a productive but hospitable people.”

This after Duke, bashing the Executive Council for its $4.5 billion budget request in June, and noting that allocation from the national budget was $2.24 billion, in his contribution, had declared:

“They have spoken greatly about big issues… all types of stuff. As a trade unionist, I learnt to recognise old talk, I’ve learnt to see pass the fluff. My problem with the PNM Executive of the THA is that they don’t learn. Year after year, same old problem… old talk, they good with that, they don’t have any substance,” he said.

He referred to his notes from the Assembly’s budget presentation in June, noting each planned project and programme and asking how much money was be spent on each.

Charles, who accused Duke of derailing the debate, went on to identify areas for development in this fiscal year, again citing tourism, agriculture and agro-processing.

“We are saying let’s provide our people with the opportunities to facilitate that growth in entrepreneurship, that growth in manufacturing and all of that would culminate over time in the building of a robust private sector, thereby allowing for a shift overtime in the ratio of persons employed by the THA and those employed by the private sector. “But the process would have started, and the process has gone some distance notwithstanding the fact that we are really accounting for 22 months of service,” he said.

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