Ancil Dennis

former chief secretary Ancil Dennis.

PNM would not say if workers must go home

Tobago’s economy is in a comatose state under the Progressive Democratic Patriots (PDP) as all sectors have come to a halt.

So said former chief secretary Ancil Dennis, as he weighed into the handling of the economy under this new administration.

Dennis admitted that while the Tobago economy was not as strong as it should be under the People’s National Movement (PNM), it certainly was not this bad.

“I would even go as far as saying that in just about 18 short months if my math is correct, this administration has managed to utterly destroy the island’s economy. They have destroyed the construction sector, they have almost destroyed the agriculture sector and they have demoralised the business sector on the island,” he bemoaned.

Asked what he would do differently as Chief Secretary, Dennis quickly outlined that while he was in the hot seat from May 2020 to December 2021, the people of Tobago were a priority.

He noted that TADCO (Tobago Agribusiness Development Company) was developed to help boost the sector.

“I was all over Tobago in white boots and black boots visiting farmers, talking to farmers, hearing their concerns, their issues, their suggestions, and their ideas. Going from sheep pens to goat pens to broiler farms, to layer farms, to pig farms, to yam farms, you name it. All over Tobago. This Chief Secretary on the other hand is completely unreachable,” Dennis remarked.

The construction sector especially has come to a screeching halt and he said this is an important component of the island’s economy.

Dennis noted that the previous PNM administration engaged in a programme of infrastructural works over two years. This, he said, was aimed at achieving two very important objectives, among others, to quickly and effectively resolve long-standing infrastructural issues and make other critical interventions to protect both public and private infrastructure, as well as to stimulate the construction sector and provide employment opportunities and economic stimulation during the pandemic period, which had left many unemployed.

“Several Tobago communities he claimed benefited by having flooding and other infrastructural issues resolved. The design-build-finance (DBF) procurement model was used, to allow the THA to get the work done without the need for upfront financing, but with a commitment to periodic payments over a reasonable period,” he highlighted,

Dennis argued that the priority for this administration is their friends in Trinidad, as he claims Tobago’s money is being sent right back to Trinidad.

“Imagine $300 million in road paving contracts or road development contracts went back to Trinidad. Agriculture produce that would normally be taken from Tobagonians to treat with the activities of TADCO is now being taken from quite in Trinidad. Security companies from Trinidad are now taking business from security companies, so clearly Tobago is not the priority at this time,” The former chief secretary explained.

Dennis said it’s a clear indication this administration is only treating other areas that are beneficial to them.

“They are finding the money to travel. They are finding the money to pay their salaries. They are finding the money to give their friends and family contracts. No money of course to treat with the agriculture sector. No money to deal with tourism. No money for the Carnival stakeholders in Tobago. No money to pay salaries on time. No money to pay the promised backpay to Community-Based Environmental Protection and Enhancement Programme (CEPEP) and the Unemployment Relief Programme (URP) workers, but every Monday morning a secretary is on a plane somewhere travelling,” Dennis stressed.

He said Chief Secretary Farley Augustine and two other Tobago House of Assembly (THA) Secretaries are in Jamaica now just to sign one memorandum of understanding (MOU).

“You know what is the unfortunate thing? When they were out of the office they had all the answers. They were the most humble and accessible people, apparently so. They hoodwinked Tobagonians into office and this is what Tobagonians have to endure now. And it is not even two years yet. Already very early into their term, they have managed to virtually destroy the Tobago economy,” he stated.

Dennis agreed with economist Dr Vanus James and Tobago Chamber president Diane Hadad that the economy is drowning. “Can you imagine if Dr Vanus James, who campaigned with them, who is a well-respected economist in Tobago and the Caribbean generally and perhaps the world, if James is getting the cold shoulder, can you imagine what it is like for the average Tobagonian on the island? So, the situation is quite unfortunate. James and Diane Hadad are telling it as it is,” he insisted.

However, when asked if it would be important to reduce the number of people who are working for the THA and use that money instead on capital projects or projects that can make a return for the island, Dennis said he wished not to comment on that question at this time.


THE all-clear has been given by the Appeal Court to CL Financial (CLF) to challenge, at the Privy Council, a previous decision it made relating to the amount of monies owed to its joint liquidators for works carried out in 2019.

The government will not roll back spending on its capital projects even if energy prices remain lower than expected and if it has to run a higher than anticipated budget deficit.

Finance Minister Colm Imbert told a news conference on Monday that capital expenditure is crucial to growing the economy and there will not be any reduction in expenditure in 2023.

Trinidad and Tobago Insurance Company Limited (TATIL), the wholly-owned subsidiary of ANSA Merchant Bank Limited whose ultimate parent is conglomerate ANSA McAL, says it has no plans to change the structure of or re-brand Colfire, which it recently acquired.