PDP Deputy Political leader Farley Augustine.

The Ministry of Trade is refuting claims made by Farley Augustine, deputy political leader of the Progressive Democratic Patriots (PDP), and incoming Chief Secretary of the Tobago House of Assembly, that the People’s National Movement (PNM) left the Tobago economy in trouble.

The Ministry is taking issue, in particular, with Mr Augustine’s allegation that there was “a lack of involvement of the THA” in the Rocky Point project.

The following is the full text of the statement issued by the Ministry…

(MTI) — We refer to the article in today’s Business Guardian, Thursday 9 December, 2021, “Farley: PNM Left us a bed of thorns” wherein Mr. Farley Augustine expressed concern with the Development of a First Class Hotel and Property Development at Rocky Point with what he contended “was a lack of involvement of the THA in driving the project.”

The Ministry of Trade and Industry wishes to once more place on record that the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) has been an integral player in the development of this project since its inception.  Specifically, in April 2021, Cabinet established an Evaluation Committee to review Expressions of Interest (EOIs) for the development of a First Class Hotel and Property Development at Rocky Point which included a senior representative of the THA. The Evaluation Committee met during the period April-August 2021 to evaluate both Expressions of Interest and subsequently, Request for Proposals (RFPs) from shortlisted entities.

The Representative of the THA played a critical role during the evaluation process to ensure that proposals were evaluated based on robust evaluation criteria which inter alia included a Local Benefits Plan and an Environmental Preservation Plan to ensure that the development integrates with the surrounding communities and considered the conservation of the environment and natural beauty of the Rocky Point Bay.

The proposed development of this 200-room Marriott-branded hotel will propel Tobago as a front runner in the competitive Caribbean tourism environment and will augur well for the future of tourism for the island. The selected investor has committed to investing TT$496 million and when completed, the Resort will employ over 221 persons, mostly from Tobago. It is estimated that approximately 750 persons will be employed during the construction phase of the project. The multiplier effect from this project both during construction and operation will be significant for the island of Tobago and by extension Trinidad.

The selected investor has also given a firm commitment to maximize the use of local labour, goods and services provided in Tobago. They have also committed to conducting training programs at the secondary school level in Tobago to prepare potential candidates for a career in the hospitality and tourism sector. The resort will also maximize its intake of local agricultural products and services which will involve inter alia the implementation of a farmer’s programme where the hotel will work with farmers through the THA and the Cove Industrial Estate to improve the production and services of agro-producers in Tobago.

The Ministry of Trade and Industry through eTecK, looks forward to continuing its strong partnership with the Tobago House of Assembly to making this project a reality which is meant to improve the lives of all residents of Tobago and by extension the people of Trinidad and Tobago.