The PDP’s deputy political leader Farley Augustine has promised the disparity in the cost of living between Tobago and Trinidad will be one of the key areas addressed when the Progressive Democratic Patriots take the reigns of the Tobago House of Assembly.
During a political meeting at Signal Hill on Wednesday night, he said preliminary research indicates that the cost of basic goods is 30 per cent higher in Tobago when compared to neighbouring Trinidad.
And in some cases, the prices are even higher than 30 per cent especially in crucial areas such as hardware and building materials. Augustine said the system must be changed to allow Tobagonians to achieve more.
“A friend from Castara told me he paid $7,000 for a bale of steel and two weeks later at the same hardware, the same bale of steel cost $11,000. Tobago we have been paying a lot more for a lot less, on this island has to be fixed.”
This he said is one of the reasons why there are so many incomplete homes on the island as many people in Tobago do not hold deeds to the properties they occupied as the island’s land title issue was never addressed.
Augustine said once appointed the PDP plans to reclaim 38 acres of land at the ocean end of the Scarborough Port to reconfigure the port’s functions that will allow for goods to be brought directly to Tobago.
And under a PDP LED Tobago House of Assembly, Augustine said, the port will facilitate trade and tourism as the Scarborough Development plan encompasses a port which will have enough capacity for cruise ships, the interisland ferry and smaller vessels from other Caribbean countries.
Steps will also be taken to make Tobago attractive to shoppers in Trinidad.
“We will start by making the brand-new spanking city of Scarborough a tax-free zone. Trinis must now jump on the boat and come Scarborough to shop instead of Tobagonians going to Port-of- Spain or all the way down in Princess Town to shop. By now we should have had a cargo port so that our goods are not imported from somewhere down in Trinidad and we have to fight up to go down in Trinidad somewhere to get our goods.”
The party’s deputy political leader also urged Tobagonians to vote wisely as he said the food cards being given out as incentives for votes will reduce in value as time progresses.
“When they come to you and give you food cards be mindful the items you will get for the 500 dollars today in a few months’ time you will only be able to afford less with the same money because we need to fix the cost of living in Tobago.”
The PDP also proposes to utilize the former NIB Mall compound which has been vacant since 2013, to be used for the construction of a transport hub for the island.
Augustine said these and many other strategies form part of the PDP’s development plan for Scarborough.