Imbert calls for accurate reporting on Tobago land-acquisition issue

Finance Minister Colm Imbert.
Finance Minister Colm Imbert.

FINANCE Minister Colm Imbert is reiterating that the houses and lands in Bon Accord, Tobago, which the State sought to take possession of on Thursday for the airport terminal expansion project, were not the subject of any court matter.

He was responding in a media statement on Sunday to an editorial in a daily newspaper (not the Newsday).

Imbert questioned why the newspaper published inaccuracies which had been corrected, not only by his ministry but the Judiciary as well.

Describing the editorial as “utter nonsense,” Imbert rubbished claims that the airport project has been the responsibility of the Minister of Finance for the last 30 years with the land-acquisition process taking “roughly a year.”

“It is a matter of public record that the contract for the design and construction of the new airport terminal building in Tobago under the supervision of the Ministry of Finance was signed on January 28, 2020, which is two-and-a-half years ago, not 30 years ago.”

He added, the land-acquisition process started in 2019, prior to his ministry signing the contract to construct the airport.

Referring to what he called “doubling down” he accused the newspaper of not correcting previous inaccurate information, but instead repeating them.

“If it is deemed to be intemperate for correcting the public record and rebuking a newspaper for publishing rubbish in a situation which the Judiciary has quite appropriately described as volatile, then so be it. The Minister of Finance will continue to point out and expose this type of media misconduct as and when required. The public has a right to know the true facts, as opposed to misinformation.”

On Friday, the Judiciary in a media release said there is no injunction in place. It said an undertaking had been given by the Minister of Agriculture, Lands and Fisheries, through the Attorney General, to not act against other occupiers and/or owners – not the ones who were being removed on Thursday.

That undertaking, arising out of court hearings on August 8 and 9, continues until August 26.

Tobago West MP Shamfa Cudjoe said, to date the State has paid over $210 million to acquire lands for the expansion of airport.


"Imbert calls for accurate reporting on Tobago land-acquisition issue"

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