Chief Secretary of the Tobago House of Assembly Kelvin Charles has said the continued employment by the THA of 60 per cent of the workers in Tobago is not sustainable.
Charles said the model needed to change and called on the private sector on the island to increase the number of people they hire in their businesses.
Charles delivered the feature address yesterday at the launch of an Entrepreneurship Development Training Programme hosted jointly by YTEPP Limited and bpTT. The event took place at the Victor E Bruce Financial Complex, Scarborough.
Charles said the THA employs 60 per cent of Tobago’s workforce. He revealed that research has shown this model is not sustainable if there is to be economic growth.
He said, “It is really a thriving business sector that develops an economy. We have on the basis, that we are described as an open economy, have been funding our development primarily through government expenditure, but you see what happen, when government expenditure falls because of reduced income then it means that business activity becomes depressed.”
Charles told participants that they too have to play the role of employer as their businesses grow. He said, “Your contribution to the development of this space is not only to feed your family and yourselves but to contribute to the development of the island.”
Charles said the THA is taking a pro-active role in developing small and micro businesses in Tobago. On this note, he said, one of the steps includes increased participation by the THA in this year’s Trade and Investment Convention.
The Chief Secretary said by June Tobagonian entrepreneurs would participate in an event called Tobago comes to Trinidad. He said this is designed to give entrepreneurs the opportunity to interact with manufacturers and distributors.
Charles argued that because of Tobago’s small population of 60,000 a wider market is needed.
The THA has increasingly played the role of number one employer on the island with the private sector often accusing it of crowding it out.
The situation has been made worse with the decreasing number of tourist arrivals and lower level of commerce on the island.
It was revealed that fifteen youths were selected to participate in the 5-day training programme. Two successful participants from the group with feasible business plans would be given grants of $20,000 each from bpTT while the remainder can apply for grants up to $25,000 each from the THA’s Division of Community Development, Enterprise Development and Labour for their projects.