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Shamfa stays in office—Rowley
Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley says no consideration was being given to remove Tourism Minister Shamfa Cudjoe from his Cabinet as the decision to close the Tourism Development Company was a decision taken by the Government and not one minister.
He was speaking during yesterday’s post-Cabinet news conference at the Diplomatic Centre, St Ann’s. The Communications Workers Union have been calling on Rowley to axe the Tourism Minister over her failure to consult with the union over the closure of the company and the fate of the 114 workers.
Rowley said that call could not be a serious one. He said he lead the Cabinet which decided to close the TDC.
“So therefore to call on me to fire the minister because the minister did it is not to understand what is happening,” he said.
He said Cudjoe was a part of the Cabinet “so to try to personalise it and to try to attack an individual is not getting us anywhere and we are not being distracted by that.”
Rowley said the “Government will go as quickly as possible to the point where we have better promotion of T&T tourism product, have a better product available and expand our footprint in Caribbean tourism. That is what we are after.”
Rowley said two new entities, one focussing on Tobago and the other on Trinidad, will be established within the next three months.
He said the decision to close the company was not made “out-of-the-blue.”
Rowley said under the proposed arrangement the Tobago House of Assembly “will have a greater input and direct responsibility for marketing and promoting Tobago because Tobagonians want that. That is what they want.”
He said the product to market the country has to be regulated to maintaining the standard required. Rowley said a regulatory agency has to be established also.
Rowley said it was the union’s responsibility to advocate for its members, who are the workers of the TDC. He said he had “no problem with that, we expect them to ensure that the workers are treated fairly but at the end of the day the Government looks at the wider national interest.”
Rowley said he was “disappointed to hear some of the unfounded allegations” about the matter.
He said some $200 million was wasted under the TDC, previously, “so the availability of funding was not the problem affecting the sector.”
He said T&T’s “failure to properly promote itself was not simply a question of not enough money.” He added: “It might be a dysfunctional effort, a poor promotional model.”
Rowley expressed disappointment over a decision by the Communications Workers’ Union and others to withdraw from the National Tripartite Advisory Council which established as a forum for government, business and labour to meet to discuss matters of national importance.
He said he did not expect that there withdrawal of the labour movement would have occurred at the first instance of a problem. Rowley said the problems should and could have been discussed within the body.