Charles: Successes not highlighted enough

Chief Secretary Kelvin Charles  -
Chief Secretary Kelvin Charles -

Although the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) election is constitutionally due in 2021, Chief Secretary Kelvin Charles believes the work that has been undertaken by the PNM-led assembly since it assumed office in 2017, resonates with objective-minded Tobagonians.

However, he believes the media has erred in not presenting as often as it should, the positive developments of his administration.

"What needs to be said more forcefully and I have said it may times, when dog bites man, that eh news but when man bites dog, that is news," he said last Wednesday during a news conference at Mt Irvine Bay Resort.

"We even have that problem in Trinidad –the positive things are not repeated often enough. But more than that, media people do not find that sexy enough to carry."

Charles added the same can be said for social media.

"When you look at social media as well, unless you as an individual or your entity put your information out there, then you see what happens."

Charles said the rehabilitation of the Claude Noel Highway, one of the island's major thoroughfares, is a case in point.

He said: "When we decided that we would do the rehabilitation of the Claude Noel Highway, when the work actually did start you remember the kinds of negative comments that were generated. And even though the correct information was placed out there when the senior technical person went on the media, you still had persons commenting negatively."

Charles asked: "Now that it is completed, now that is looks beautiful and we all are justly proud, how many of us have commented favourably on it?"

Charles said he did not want to rate his stewardship but noted his administration has performed creditably despite declining revenue.

He said despite a shortfall in revenue, the assembly has managed to maintain employment levels.

"In other words, we have retrenched no one. And, therefore, that has a positive impact on the economy because it means that the aggregate disposable income would not have fallen. So you have that which was a tremendous achievement from any standpoint."

Charles, who is also political leader of the PNM Tobago Council, said the assembly has also been able to complete more URP projects.

"In URP (Unemployment Relief Programme), in 2018, you had 26 projects completed as opposed to 2017 and this year you have about 40 something. So, you are seeing there is visibility in terms of the things they are doing in respect of agriculture."

Charles also spoke of successes in community development.

"When I came to office, the previous year you had in the special or vocational programmes...we had over 500 persons graduating. In the first year of our stewardship, you had 772. Last year, you had 1,059.

"Today (last Wednesday) we will be graduating over 1,400 persons, indicating, of course, that the message of empowerment and positioning yourselves in a way to become entrepreneurs is working."

Charles said although the assembly has been able to encourage greater productivity, it still remains a work in progress.

"We are getting people a bit more productive. We are not quite where we should be. But there are areas which one can see such improvements."

He also acknowledged several achievements in education, including Tobago's historic success in this year's Secondary Entrance Assessment examination.

"In respect of those achievements, to my mind, they represent a fundamental continuation of the progress we would have enjoyed as an island from 2001. But, of course, like everything else, we probably could have done a bit more."


"Charles: Successes not highlighted enough"

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