PNM Tobago Council political leader Tracy Davidson-Celestine has said the chairmen of the three THA companies to be subsumed will be retained.
This comes on the heels of the announcement by Chief Secretary Ancil Dennis during last Wednesday’s post Executive Council media briefing that the Executive Council approved a decision to wind down the Tobago Cassava Products Company Ltd, the Fish Processing Company of Tobago Ltd and the Tobago Cold Storage Company and Warehouse Facility Ltd. Dennis said over the years, the companies have not been able to achieve the intended objectives and hence the reason for this change.
The companies are chaired by Pathleen Titus (Tobago Cassava Products Company), Curtis Williams (Fish Processing Company) and June Melville (Tobago Cold Storage Company and Warehouse Facility, respectively, as chairmen of the board of directors respectively.
According to Dennis, the companies will be incorporated into the Tobago Agri-Business Company Ltd with a new mandate and a fresh vision. The new company should be established by October 1.
Questioned at Friday’s PNM virtual news conference about the future of the chairmen, Davidson-Celestine said they will be retained.
“They would continue to lead with new focus and new vision and a new organisational structure basically that reports to one CEO and reports to one board,” she said.
“So, the result will be a more streamlined approach, one that will derive greater opportunities for farmers and fishermen in terms of marketing and distribution for persons in the agricultural sector.
“The marketing arm of the company will now be responsible for ensuring that the products are packaged in a particular way, that markets are sought out, that we create a particular niche and as would have been explained, I think that there is a niche for organic and an organic Tobago product, so the marketing arm of that company would ensure that research is put into branding and packaging our Tobago products going forward.”
Speaking with Newsday, Food Production Secretary Hayden Spencer said the decision taken by the executive council was a policy decision.
“We would have had consultants going to the companies and gathering the necessary information before planning this merger.
“It’s something of a magnitude that we’re approaching there that has never been before, but we really have to do that vehicle that would drive the business sector where agriculture is concerned in Tobago,” he said.
Spencer noted the executives at the companies were not informed prior to the decision being taken.
“A note has to be approved first. You can’t just go to the officers and say what we’re doing when it's not approved. Now that it is approved, it would be my task now... and I would have started yesterday (Thursday) to meet with the board members and so on and inform them of the new approach that we are going to take into merging these three companies and bring them under the heading of one company.”
The secretary said he and the consultants will explain the entire process, so that “we do not go ahead of ourselves and spread wrong information.”
While he could not give the figures of exactly how many people are employed collectively by the three companies, he said there will be no job losses.
“No employee or anything like that would be disenfranchised or anything like that, it’s about merging the companies. The company’s functions would remain, it's just that they would be given a greater mandate towards the agri-business centre.”