Minority Assemblyman Farley Augustine says Tobago has to improve its private sector to make it more competitive.
Addressing a news conference last Tuesday hosted by the Progressive Democratic Patriots at the party's Scarborough headquarters, Augustine lamented the fact that the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) employs more than 60 per cent of the population.
"It is something that we have to work on, not just PNM THA but we as Tobagonians have to work on. We all have to work on improving our private sector and making it more competitive," he told reporters.
"We have to work on weaning ourselves from state employment. We have to work on making ourselves much more productive. But the leadership must come from through the leadership council."
Augustine was responding to last week's PNM news conference in which Assistant Secretary, Office of the Chief Secretary, Ancil Dennis, said the lack of productivity and poor work ethic in Tobago is mostly a THA problem.
To address the issue, Dennis said the THA intends to establish a public sector academy next year "to ensure that all our officers across the THA receive continuous and relevant training to ensure they are equipped to do their jobs more effectively."
Augustine, representative for Speyside/L'Anse Fourmi/Parlatuvier, claimed THA secretaries over the years have also contributed to the problem of low productivity on the island.
"We have seen secretaries being involved in matters that they should not even be involved in – signing off letters to provide people with access to lands and all sorts of stuff that they shouldn't be doing. And, therefore, they should rightfully take the responsibility for creating an environment that is unproductive.
"And when the State tries to employ everybody on the island you will end up with tonne loads of people, naturally, who will have very little to do, have very unproductive work to do or will be under-employed. That is a natural result of trying to employ everybody on the island."