Minister of Planning and Development Pennelope Beckles- Robinson says new tax incentives will soon be rolled out in an attempt to protect Trinidad and Tobago's heritage sites.
She was speaking at the National Trust's Heritage Listing Ceremony on Wednesday where 16 new heritage sites were named. Beckles-Robinson said these measures would help sustain heritage restoration in T&T.
“The upcoming heritage tax allowance programme, [is]an incentive created to encourage corporate support of heritage preservation projects. I hope this first step will spark Trinidad and Tobago's heritage economy.”
Beckles-Robinson stated that these heritage sites can open new doors and opportunities for T&T, and if done correctly, can become a self-sustaining industry.
She said, “The social and economic implications of a heritage economy are boundless with enormous potential for job creation, tourism development and investment climate enhancement. Spillover effects can also be felt in science, education and technology and can promote social cohesion into cultural dialogue and exchange in our ethnically diverse nation.”
According to the minister, 59 sites have been listed to be legally protected by the state and as time passes, they hope to increase that number in an effort to ensure T&T's heritage is safeguarded for future generations.
Also present at the event, was Port of Spain Mayor, Joel Martinez who commended the National Trust for the work they have done.
“Port of Spain has a lot of historical buildings and a lot of listings from the national trust...When we travel, we hear did you visit this, did you see that...and that’s the thing about it, we associate places around the world with their historical buildings and their beautiful places. I’m proud and happy that Ms. McDowell and the National Trust can and will and continue to do things like this to allow us to have that sense of appreciation for what we have.”
He also urged citizens to foster a sense of appreciation for the culture that is present in T&T, echoing the minister’s sentiments.
“It is now up to us as citizens of Trinidad and Tobago, the citizens of Port of Spain... to as a citizen of Trinidad and Tobago to do something about it to ensure that it remains preserved for us to appreciate it, not just for our generation but for many more generations to come.”
Chairman of the National Trust of Trinidad and Tobago, Margaret McDowell revealed that there were over 400 sites recognised by the trust, where “some are natural and some are built.”
According to McDowell, the trust looks “for buildings and properties of all sorts that are symbols of the heritage of our country, all kinds of heritage.” These properties then go through a series of steps, such as the landmarks committee, then legal, then to councillors before heading to the Minister's desk.
She also revealed that each site is given a grade which denotes the level of restrictions persons may have when restoring the properties. McDowell said this process requires “continuous maintenance, continuous support.”
Newly enlisted Heritage Sites:
Trinidad Government Railway Building
St. James Police Barracks
Our Lady of Montserrat R.C Church
Carnegie Free Library
George Brown House