Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : February 23rd 2018 Contents LOYSE VINCENT
Despite assurances from Tobago
House of Assembly Secretary for
Infrastructure, Quarries and the
Environment, Kwesi Des Vignes,
that no Unemployment Relief Pro-
gramme (URP) will be cut, some
Tobagonians are still worried.
Des Vignes made the pledge
on Monday, just after a meeting
to discuss the future of the pro-
gramme in light of funding issues.
In a subsequent press conference,
Des Vignes said all the workers will
As is customary, the programme
closed late last year and was sched-
uled to reopen this month after a
verification exercise. But rumour
began to spread that as many as
500 workers could be cut from
the programme as the THA sought
to cut costs. A Sunday Guardian
article also quoted the division’s
Assistant Secretary, Sheldon Cun-
ningham, as admitting to the pro-
gramme’s financial challenges.
Addressing these concerns,
Des Vignes said there would be
no cuts and the programme will
be rebranded and the labour ver-
ification process completed. Des
Vignes said employees’ names
are currently being uploaded to
the Labour Exchange Bureau and
some will be redeployed. He said
more people will be sent to the
Agricultural Training Programme,
furniture workshop, concrete
plant in Blenheim and new agricul-
tural programme in Tobago west.
In outlining the URP’s current
financial position, the division’s
administrator, Richie Toppin, said
of the $18 million allocated for this
year’s programme, just over $3
million was left.
During the presentation of
the 2017-2018 Budget statement,
Finance Secretary Joel Jack re-
quested $77.2 million to finance
However, Des Vignes said the
additional funds will be sourced.
“There will be some bolstering of
the funds ... but ... we have to get a
lot more value for money.”
The new URP will now include
an employee handbook and new
policy preventing people from
holding another THA job.
But even with Des Vignes’ prom-
ise, some workers, although ex-
pressing relief, are still concerned
the programme’s money is run-
ning out and the THA might not
be able to continue its current em-
Forty-six-year-old mother of
four Sherryl Wright, of Golden
Lane, said she depends on the
programme to live.
“I am a single mother, I worked
with the URP for almost 11 years
and things are really hard. I also
have a small parlour, even if URP
is small money every little cent
helps,” she told Tobago Today.
She said the expected increase
in Christmas sales, which usually
helped her family when the pro-
gramme closes annually at year-
end, did not materialise last year.
She is “relieved” the programme
will reopen on March 1 and hopes
to remain employed so she can
complete her home with the aid of
the Self Help Programme, which
utilises URP labour to complete
homes with building materials
bought by the owners.
Friday, February 23, 2018
No URP cuts
Tobagonians came out decked in
African wear to witness the big
screen performance of son of the
soil Winston Duke at the midnight
premiere of the Black Panther on
Two out of four movie screens
were totally sold out and close to
400 tickets sold for the event. To-
bago Today understands the VIP
tickets were sold out within the
first 30 minutes of the 12 pm of
the box office opening, while ap-
proximately 270 tickets were sold
within the first hour.
The movie started 25 minutes
after the scheduled midnight
showing as MovieTowne Tobago
staff gave excited patrons ample
time to fill the theatres.
However, the sense of pride be-
came most apparent when Win-
ston Duke, who plays the role of
“M’Baku,” made his first dramatic
appearance in the film. Cheers
and screams were heard through-
out the building.
Duke played his character
without any faults, depicting the
power, strength, sensitivity and
humour of his character.
The movie was action-packed,
but at the same time dealt with
pertinent issues of slavery and
highlighted Afro-futurist and an-
At the end of the movie, all who
witnessed the Marvel blockbuster
walked away feeling satisfied.
Cherishe Trotman-O’Neil, an
Argyle resident, said her fellow
villager made her proud with his
acting. “It exceeded my expec-
tations and I plan to watch the
movie a second time. It was really
good and I’m really proud of Win-
ston Duke, a son of the Argyle soil,
Tobago East representing. It was
awesome and my companions and
I sat until we saw both Winston
Duke and Sekani Solomon’s name
in the credits,” she said.
Secretary for the Division of In-
frastructure Quarries and the En-
vironment Kwesi Des Vignes also
saw the movie and was impressed
“I find the movie was great actu-
ally. There were a lot of mentions
of slave history as well, it was re-
ally linked to real life, I really liked
it; very conscious, very awakening
for some people, it was good.
“As to Winston’s performance,
that was amazing, the cinema
erupted every time he came on
screen, that was awesome to see
and we look forward to a lot more
from him,” Des Vignes said.
Assistant Secretary Shomari
Hector, also at the premiere, said
he was happy the African tradi-
tion, heritage and identity were
reflected on an international
stage, but was more pleased with
Duke’s/ M’Baku’s performance
“It was well timed, it came in, it
gave me goosebumps and I’m still
excited ...his performance was
very good, amazing” he said.
... employees concerned despite assurances
Patrons are entertained by African drummers and dancers before the Black Panther premiere at MovieTowne, Lowlands, on Wednesday. Patrons came out in their numbers to see the big screen
performance of Tobago-born Winston Duke, who has one of the lead roles in the movie.
PICTURE DIVISION OF TOURISM CULTURE AND TRANSPORTATION
THA Secretary of the Division of Infrastructure, Quarries and the
Environment Kwesi Des Vignes, right, and Administrator in the Division
Ritchie Toppin at Monday’s media conference on the future of the URP.
PICTURE THA INFO DEPT
Tobagonians impressed by son of the soil
Tobago born Winston Duke plays
M’Baku in the film.
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