Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : October 13th 2017 Contents A6 opinion lead
Friday, October 13, 2017
Let's go back to the land
Secretary of Food Production,
Forestry and Fisheries Hayden
Spencer is calling all Tobago-
nians back to the land to plant
At a recent post-Executive Council
media brie ing, Spencer asked Tobago-
nians to allow the World Food Day cel-
ebrations on October 16 to spur them
back to their gardens to increase Toba-
go's agricultural production.
He said everyone has a part to play
in improving the island's food security.
This year, World Food Day will be
marked by a month of celebrations
although the overall allocation for the
event has decreased.
Activities will include school lectures
to create awareness in the school pop-
ulation and the focus of the event has
also shifted away from competition to
"As the Chief Secretary would say,
it's business as unusual. You have
to look at value for your money and
changing the mindset of our people,"
Day of the Girl
October 11 marked the International
Day of the Girl. The day aims to
highlight and address the needs and
challenges girls face, while promoting girls'
empowerment and the ful ilment of their
In observance of the occasion, Tobago ob-
served the day with a workshop for female
secondary students at the Scarborough Li-
brary Facility on Wednesday.
Trimming the fat
All of Trinidad and Tobago has been
called upon to tighten its belt as in-
come from the ener y sector contin-
ues to reduce dramatically.
Indeed, economic data shows the extent of
the decline. It indicates that the economy grew
a bit greater than eight per cent between 2000
and 2007, contracted between 2009 2012,
made small gains in 2013 and began contract-
ing between 2014 2016.
The value of exports, also an economic in-
dicator, decreased signi icantly from $13.8
billion in 2013 to $11 billion in 2015. The annu-
alised rate of exports also continues to decline.
Tobago is worse off, as income from Trini-
dad's treasury declined and the tourism sector,
its other main economic driver, has recorded
all-time low igures, causing stakeholders to
And although igures on Tobago's economy
are not as readily available at Trinidad's, the
extent of the economic decline is visible be-
cause of the smallness of the island.
For instance, the Crown Point strip of road,
which offers similar entertainment activity
as Trinidad's Ariapita Avenue, is no longer
teeming with activity all week. And workers in
many private tourism-related activity jobs are
either at home on most days and are forced
to supplement their income by inding other
Thus, while Trinidadians tighten their
belts one notch, the average Tobago-
nian may have to tighten a few more
Faced with this economic reality, Chief Sec-
retary Kelvin Charles has bravely declared
that the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) will
maintain its level of employment.
Seeing that the THA employs more than 70
per cent of the employees in Tobago, his state-
ment is an expression of hope and desire bear-
ing little resemblance to reality.
The fact is that the recurrent expenditure
package, from which salaries are paid, is $89
million less than last year's. Also, most of the
employees occupy contracted positions and
are paid above the average rate as compared
with public servants.
There is added cost to their employment, as
they are given a 20 per cent gratuity at the end
of their contracted period.
The interesting thing is that while this em-
ployment situation occurs, productive sectors
such as agriculture, which if engaged properly
will result in much needed foreign exchange,
lie relatively dormant.
Added to this employment level are jobs in
CEPEP and URP---temporary social safety net
Over time, employment in these areas have
become permanent and talk of them being
part of the agricultural sector rise with eco-
nomic tides. When the country is experiencing
a boom the conversation disappears.
Every government has enabled this situa-
tion. The population too has accepted that
these "temporary" jobs are a permanent part
of the workforce. The situation has been ra-
It's time to redeploy some workers into pro-
ductive sectors as we trim the fat in others.
Tobago Today, Tomco Building, Plymouth Road, Scarborough.
Editor, Camille Mc Eachnie -
Sales Manager, Sonja Romany -
225-4465 (4GML), ext. 5552, 6130, 6131, 6132, 6133, 6134.
A product of Guardian Media Limited
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
Facilitator Carissa Daniel speaks with pupils attending the Scarborough
Library's International Day of the Girl Child activities on Wednesday.
SECRETARY OF FINANCE AND THE ECONOMY JOEL JACK
on the importance of Information and Communications Technology (ICT)
to Tobago's development earlier this month.
"ICT has the potential to enable an environment that would
strengthen our public institutions, as well as develop our
facilities infrastructure networks."
Bishop's High School students, above, listen attentively to the presentation of facilitator Carissa Daniel, right. PICTURES THA INFO DEPT
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