MISMANAGEMENT and sell-out.
This is how PNM Tobago Council political leader Ancil Dennis described the Progressive Democratic Patriots (PDP)-led THA as it approaches its first year in office.
The PDP enjoyed a landslide victory over the PNM in the December 6, 2021, THA election, winning 14 of the 15 electoral districts. The PNM had previously led the assembly for 21 unbroken years.
Dennis, who became Tobago Council leader on April 24 after the party’s internal election, told Newsday that the PDP, apart from “selling out” Tobagonians, also did not keep many of the promises it made on the campaign trail.
“This administration, whether its PDP or Farley and Friends or the jellyfish gang, their first year in office is really about two things – mismanagement and sell out. And within there, you have a lot of broken promises.”
He believes Tobagonians are not a priority for this administration.
“During the election they promised a Tobago first agenda where Tobago and Tobagonians will be given the first opportunities, where everything possible will be done to ensure that Tobagonians and Tobago people’s business will be first on the agenda. That is what they promised. We have not seen that.”
Dennis also took issue with the THA’s road infrastructure drive ahead of the Tobago’s inaugural carnival in October.
He claimed about $300 million was spent on the projects, utilising mainly Trinidad-based contractors.
“They called it an emergency but clearly it was not an emergency because carnival has long gone and only one of the four roads has been completed, although they promised to deliver these roads before Carnival.
“Carnival was used as the justification to call it an emergency and therefore, use the opportunity to select the contractors.”
Dennis claimed there was no public tender for the road contracts.
He said if the PNM was in power, the $300 million would have been used to employ Tobago people and to ensure that the materials for the road projects were purchased on the island.
He added all or most of the money would have circulated in Tobago.
“But what we have now is it being shipped away back to Trinidad where it came from. They promised to put Tobago first and now they are doing the opposite.”
He claimed there was also an infiltration of Trinidad contractors in the school-repair programme on the island.
The PNM leader also accused the THA of “unprecedented levels of nepotism and jobs are also being created specifically for party supporters.
“People are being given consultancy jobs without the requisite qualification.”
Dennis also accused the administration of “unprecedented levels of wastage.
“All kinds of overseas trips here, there and everywhere, with little to no benefits.”
He also complained about the $1.75 million "stage in the sea," which was constructed on Milford Road, Scarborough, before the October carnival.
“We are seeing as well a situation where a stage was built on the sea front for frivolous reasons – a stage that is likely to be significantly undermined by the wave activity on that beachfront. Two million dollars is likely to go down the drain.”
Dennis said the money could have been used to continue several of the initiatives that began under the PNM.
He cited agriculture as an example.
“The farmland development programme that was started under the PNM, where we intended to develop three areas – Friendship, Belmont Road and Lammy Road in Argyle to put in roads, lights, water, proper infrastructure to facilitate close to 200 farmers in those areas, they have abandoned that using (lack of) money as an excuse.”
Dennis also accused the PDP of failing to pay workers on time.