Tobago’s economy has been growing at an annual rate of three per cent over the last five years, according to the Finance Secretary in the Tobago House of Assembly Joel Jack.
Saying the rate of economic expansion “is fairly good” Jack said it is possible that growth rate could increase over time.
Speaking at this week’s post-Executive Council media briefing on Wednesday at the Victor E. Bruce Financial Complex, Scarborough, Jack said, “Over the last five years the annual average growth rate in Tobago was approximately three per cent. “
He added: “While we continue along the path of a growth rate of three per cent, the potential is there for us to increase economic growth activity here on the island,” he added.
Tobago’s economy has faced serious challenges over the last few years with smaller international and domestic tourist arrivals and challenges to commerce caused by an unreliable ferry service.
Reminded that on Monday, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley told CNC3’s Morning Brew’s host Hema Ramkissoon that Tobago’s economy is “plodding along,” he said, Rowley was also correct.
“Three per cent in comparison to six or seven per cent where you would have less than an optimal growth... so if you are looking at the comparison as a barometer that will give you a sense... as I said we have the data,” Jack replied.
Reminded too that the Tobago Division of the Trinidad and Tobago Chamber of Industry and Commerce and the Tobago Hotel and Tourism Association have said businesses are failing and some facing foreclosure, he said he had spoken to other business persons who are doing well.
“I am also on the ground and I am ...intimately aware of some of the challenges, but I am also intimately aware that there are business owners who are expanding ... into over $40 and $50 million projects....”
Quoting data from the Central Statistical Office (CSO), he said Tobago’s inflation rate continues to hold at “moderate levels.”
“The latest data available from the Central Bank for February suggest that Tobago recorded headline inflation of 2.8 per cent, marginally higher than the 1. 2 per cent headline inflation rate recorded at the national level,” the Secretary said.
He added: “The rate of food price inflation in Tobago for the same month was “approximately 1.7 per cent and the rate of core inflation... approximately 2.9 per cent.”
He said the island’s inflation rate averaged “1. 2 per cent for February 2018 - February 2019, while the national inflation rate was 1.1 per cent.”
In spite of “previous” challenges on the air and seabridge ...inflation in Tobago has kept at moderate levels,” Jack said.