'Tobago in a bad place'

Tobago Organisation of the People political leader Ashworth Jack  -
Tobago Organisation of the People political leader Ashworth Jack -

Tobago Organisation of the People political leader and One Tobago Voice member Ashworth Jack believes the island's economy is in shambles because the Tobago House of Assembly plays too big a role in providing employment to the population.

Jack said any government that boasts of employing about 60 per cent of the population is a failed government.

"What happens when the government's source of income either falls or is dried up – which is exactly what is happening. People seem to think that in order to control people you must have a direct hand in their employment. That is the problem. It is unhealthy for democracy when you border so much on socialism."

Jack said there needs to be a serious look at the shortcomings of the economy before it gets worse.

"Tobago is in a bad place, whether we want to accept it or not, the Tobago economy is almost at a standstill. We almost at a crash," he told Newsday Tobago.

Jack said One Tobago Voice will express its concerns about the Tobago economy and other pertinent issues at a news conference within the next two weeks.

"The Tobago economy has to be addressed as a matter of urgency."

One Tobago Voice comprises Jack, Tobago Forwards leader Christlyn Moore and Platform of Truth leader Hochoy Charles.

The group, which has held public meetings in several parts of the island, was formed last year to address the challenges affecting Tobago and its people.

Jack said a lot of Tobagonians have returned to the island but are unable to find jobs.

"We have nurses that have been qualified for two years and cannot find a job in Tobago and have to run back to Trinidad."

He said the economy is too dependent on transfers from the Treasury.

"And so, the question we must ask ourselves, 'When the Treasury in Trinidad is low, does it necessarily mean we have to be in the position we are in?'" Jack asked.

"It should not be, because we have enough opportunities to be able to create a situation where we can become so proficient that we must be able to help down the road."

Saying the health and tourism sectors are also in a mess, Jack said he spoke recently to a senior government member in St Kitts/Nevis, who told him that one million tourists visited the island, last year.

"Tobago has not gotten to 50,000 tourists. St Kitts and Nevis together is smaller than Tobago and they had more than one million visitors."

Jack said he has had the opportunity to travel extensively within the Caribbean and the wider world "and Tobago could be compared in terms of natural beauty to any place in the world, better than most.

"But I think it is our inability to capitalise that is costing us. I don't know how we adverstise. I don't know what our ambassadors do in all of the countries that they are supposed to be posted. I thought the use of an embassy was to sell your country's strong points."


"'Tobago in a bad place'"

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