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Farley Augustine during a virtual meeting with members of the Tobago Chamber of Commerce

Loyse Vincent

Deputy Political Leader of the PDP Farley Augustine is calling on Tobagonians to “stand firm” as he says the fight to transform any society is never easy.

However, he said while both the PDP and the PNM try to work, fight and in some cases wait out this stalemate, the PDP has begun to engage citizens as they prepare for governance

Augustine said he hosted a virtual meeting with the members of the Tobago Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday, and the business community, like most Tobagonians, expressed concern about the current political stalemate and what that means for democracy and governance on the island. However the PDP will meet with the various interest groups on the island.

He said, “You have to see yourself as part of the transformation of this island, it cannot be just Farley and the team just governing in isolation but there must be participatory democracy and you must be actively involved.”

The PDP Deputy Political Leader said one of the major plans of the PDP is to increase the capacity of the island’s private sector.

“Tobago really has a low business capacity which makes is difficult for us to compete within economies such as Trinidad and the wider global system, our underdeveloped capacity whether physical or human needs to be developed in order to develop products for export,” he said.

He also gave an overview of some of the concerns of the business community.

The entrepreneurs expressed difficulties to access US dollars/forex and the need for a land use policy that would balance the use of lands for housing and land to be used for agriculture.

A number of concerns were also raised by persons in the tourism sector.

“Members asked for the Trinidad and Tobago Tourism Industry Certification standards be applied in Tobago so that all service providers in the tourism industry in Tobago will be properly certified,” he said.

This was in addition to ensuring that standards for Air BnB’s on the island to be improved according to the highest standard.

A key takeaway from the meeting, Augustine said, is that the Chamber will seek to “propose an accommodation or arrangement to allow for governance to happen on the island of Tobago even with the stalemate.”

He said the members pledged to get in touch with both political parties then make their proposal public.

The PDP presented the Clerk of the Tobago House of Assembly with a pre-action protocol letter last week initiating judicial review of the way forward on the current impasse of the Tobago House of Assembly.

The Clerk of the House prematurely ended two several sittings after voting for a presiding officer ended in a 6-6 tie, reflective of the results of last month’s THA Elections.

Augustine suggested on several occasions that the Clerk of the House refer to Parliamentary standing Order 92 (1) which authorises the Clerk of the House to draw lots, however the the clerk chose insead to end sitting after a series of tied votes. He promised to address the public “on the way forward from 6:6 tie on Sunday evening.”

The next stakeholder meeting will be held on Monday with members of the Tobago Hotel and Tourism Association.