Interim chairman of the Tobago Business Chamber Martin George is urging Tobagonians to not be fearful of Venezuelans seeking employment. Instead, he is advising them to see the migrant group’s potential contribution as a benefit to build a strong private sector and enhance the economy. George, who spoke to Newsday on Monday, said the Chamber welcomed the initiative by the Government to broaden the available labour resources to promote economic development. The Government's two-week amnesty ended last Friday with over 15,000 Venezuelans registering to live and work here for one year.
“They are coming looking for employment and if they are offering good work worth an honest day’s pay, of course persons will employ them the same way they will employ Tobagonians if they are offering the same,” George said.He acknowledged there will be competition for certain jobs but sees more advantages than disadvantages.
“While we are aware it may increase pressure and competition on the local population we are also aware that with it comes the potential for even greater opportunities for diversity and broaden our economic space.”He said identifying Venezuelans who specialise in the agriculture sector would be beneficial to Tobago, since farmers on the island continue to complain about workers being scarce.
“We would get more (workers) to assist in industries in Tobago and business places, this is also a plus. Tobagonians need not worry about persons coming to take their jobs because at the end of the day business is driven by the bottom line and by the commercial viability. Once you get excellent productivity it doesn’t matter if the worker is from Tobago or Venezuelans, business persons will always choose for where they are getting best results for their investments in terms of productivity and work output.”He added that a population increase is needed in Tobago for economic growth to happen.
“We need an increase in the amount of persons who carry skilled labour and even unskilled labour force in Tobago. If you look at the size of the island and the current population demographic it is clear Tobago is under populated and under resourced. It we don’t have sufficient people it will be difficult to justify to allocating more resources.”