Tobago stakeholders are calling on Tobago House of Assembly’s Finance and Economy Secretary Joel Jack to provide evidence that Tobago’s economy has grown by three per cent over the past five years.
This after Jack, citing data from the Central Statistical Office (CSO), said the economy showed growth, an unemployment rate of three per cent; some businesses were investing “over $40 and $50 million on projects, headline inflation was “2.8 per cent in February 2019” and the rate of core inflation approximately “2.9 per cent for the same period.”
Speaking at Wednesday’s post-Executive Council media briefing, the Finance Secretary also said Tobago’s inflation rate was “1.2 per cent for February 2018-February 2019, while the national inflation rate was 1.1 per cent. (See story below)
But in an immediate reaction to Jack’s disclosure, Tobago Business Chamber chairman Martin George said the Secretary should share the information he has.
Told that Jack cited data from the CSO to back up his statement, George said data alone was not enough and sectors of growth must be identified as this can offer “hope” to the many failing businesses on the island.
“I would love to know which sectors are experiencing growth and where the signs of hope are...and that would be very interesting for all of us,” George said.
George, who is also a director of the relatively new breakaway faction of the Tobago Division of the T&T Chamber of Industry and Commerce, said Jack’s information is at odds with the information provided by his members.
“Where is he (Jack) getting his information from, as it hasn’t necessarily been the case for our members based on the feedback we are getting. We will like to know where we can now focus our energies,” George, an attorney at law, added.
Traders and Truckers Association president Horace Ameade also said his members want information on areas of growth in the island’s economy.
“They are out of touch with what is the reality of what is happening in Tobago...they are living in a different country,” Ameade told Tobago Today.
Ameade’s members use the Cabo Star, the lone cargo vessel on the seabridge, to transport goods between Trinidad and Tobago.
“Right now you can’t get passage to come to Tobago or to go to Trinidad and return and how can they say we have growth,” Ameade, a business owner, added.
“Businesses in Tobago are being closed down by the droves, every corner that you look you see ‘For rent’ signs, yet they are saying growth is three per cent.
“You try to see some of the Assemblymen to explain what is happening and you can’t see some of them for a year.”