Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : May 10th 2017 Contents tobagotoday.co.tt May 10 - 2017
Surviving challenging economic times
Maximising tourism sector opportunities,
upgrading the island's airport and devel-
oping the island's agricultural sector are
some of the steps the Tobago House of
Assembly must take if it is to survive the
current economic climate.
Former Central Bank Governor, Ewart Wil-
liams made these recommendations during
the third annual ANR Robinson Distinguished
Lecture series held at the auditorium, Scar-
borough Library Facility, last week.
The event, which was hosted by the Assem-
bly Secretariat Legislature, commemorates
the passing of the former President, Prime
Minister and Tobago House of Assembly
Chairman, Arthur Napoleon Raymond Rob-
The sitting Presiding Officer, Dr Denise
Tsoiafat Angus said while the event is held
to honour Mr Robinsons' many accomplish-
ments and contributions his life should be
a lesson to all Tobagonians.
"We are compelled to go beyond the feel
-good moments around the multitude of
accomplishments and be willing to analyse
and apply some of the principles relevant to
our current situation."
She said the Assembly Legislature Secre-
tariat would employ several initiatives in an
effort to develop the mind -set of the peo-
ple. "We are currently in challenging eco-
nomic times; we need to look at where we
have been, even how we got here, what are
the threats to the future and how they can
be transformed into opportunities in order
to emerge stronger."
Former Governor of the central Bank Ewart
Williams recalled the country's economic
climate when Mr Robinson became Prime
Minister in 1996.
"When Mr Robinson became Prime Min-
ister in December 1986, oil prices were as
low as $10 dollars per barrel and employment
was a rate of 22 per cent."
He said the previous administration
delayed taking the fiscal measures needed
to adjust the economy, and this created a
situation where the country's savings were
depleted. At the time there was also a debt
ratio of 60 per cent of the GDP.
"Notwithstanding opposition from the
Parliament, trade unions and civil society
groups and I suspect even from members of
his own government, PM Robinson was drawn
into a stand-by arrangement with the IMF
and the World Bank."
The economist said Mr Robinson showed
enormous courage in implementing and
maintaining the necessary fiscal packages
which stabilised the economy. Through these
efforts, Mr Williams said Trinidad and Toba-
go became known as the "poster child" for
doing what must be done in order to survive,
although it cost Mr Robinson another term
The former Central Bank Governor said
today's economy and the one that existed
in 1996 share similar traits. "Yes, because
the recent drop in the price and volume of
oil has been more than any preceding peri-
od and the dynamics of the global energy
market has changed -- we are not facing a
cyclical downturn but a more permanent
change which economist are calling the new
According to Williams, some experts
believe the price of oil will remain at the
cost of $45 per barrel for a long time. He
said for the island to survive there should
be less dependence on the THA which
employs 60 per cent of the workforce and
spends 40 percent of its total expenditure
and wages, which could go towards other
He said while the government should look
at ways to develop the tourism sector either
on its own or through foreign investments,
residents should look at ways to maximise
opportunities, which are available in the
Former Central Bank Governor Ewart Williams receives token from Presiding Officer Dr Denise
A section of audience at ANR Robinson Distinguished Lecture Series.
Golden Apple Partnership Programme (GAPP) under review
Councillor Dr Agatha Carrington, Sec-
retary of Health, Wellness and Family
Development says GAPP will be reviewed.
This as the Division grappled with paying
workers under the program.
Noting the financial and administrative
challenges facing the Division in this area
the Secretary said: "There has been an over-
whelming demand for caregiver services on
the island, which eventually exceeded our
budgetary allocations for this fiscal year."
She said: "The current structure of the
programme is currently being reviewed with-
in the context of the increased demands for
She noted that the plans will be modified
and budgetary proposal adjusted for the next
Although the Division is facing financial
constraints the workers will not be sent
"Our plan is to retrain caregivers to ful-
fil these increased demands by our elderly
clients on the island," the Secretary said.
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