After near three years in power, Chief Secretary Kelvin Charles believes his administration is ready to kick on and enhance the quality of its service to Tobagonians. He acknowledged though that it was not all smooth sailing but believes his administration's groundwork in the first two years is beginning to stabilise the island.
He said "much time was spent recrafting, rebranding, recreating policies and so on… Having done that and having set the course, there is more time now for me to interface with the public and at the same time to provide the levels of hope and responses that are required.”
Speaking on Tobago Channel 5’s morning programme, Rise and Shine, on Tuesday, having been accused of not speaking out and being silent on issues affecting Tobagonians, Charles said: “One did take time to get to know the niceties and the challenges and the expectations, and at the same time how one organises to treat with it. So, yes, at that stage I may not have been as accessible as one may have wished but I think the results that we are seeing now legitimises, the…time was spent on preparation to go forward.”
He said that his first two years in office were the most challenging but they were able to accomplish a lot.
“We’re coming to the end of our third year and I must indicate that it has been a tremendous experience. I think that all things being equal, we have done remarkably well given the context in which we were operating."
Charles described the last two-plus years as a "learning curve" for most of the Executive Council but felt they all handled themselves well.
“We came into office in February 2017, the elections were in late January and we were inaugurated on the 26th, we had a little training and so on. We had a relatively inexperienced team, the only person with secretary experience was Joel Jack, everyone else was new to the position of secretary – even I was new to the position of secretary and chief secretary. Therefore, it was a steep learning curve for everyone.”
Charles, who also holds the portfolio of secretary of education, innovation and energy said the public saw some of his administration's groundwork paying off this year.
"We had to treat with stabilisation as well as sowing some fresh seeds and we began to see some of the fruits in 2019, some of the more significant fruits.”
Charles said lack of finances was an issue his administration had to grapple with while the demands of Tobago did not decline.
“You were bombarded with a number of requests, outstanding requests, if you wish, because finances were declining but expectations and ambitions were still going up. So, one had to treat with those kinds of situations; how does one engage the population in a way that they can temper their expectations and to bring those in line with the reality?
“So, the first two years were the most challenging I would say, in addition to which, how does one organise one’s resources, particularly one’s human resources,” he said.
Moving into 2020 and beyond, Charles said those projects that are in train would be completed, whilst those that are shovel-ready will be activated.
With the Tobago Council of the People’s National Movement (PNM) internal elections carded for January 19, Charles is once again vying for the position of political leader. This will make way for the THA elections which is constitutionally due in 2021.