• 03 MAR 2016

Post Cabinet Briefing Summary – Thursday 3rd March, 2016

Speaking at the Post Cabinet Press briefing today (Thursday 3rd March, 2016) Minister of Labour and Small Enterprise Development, Senator Jennifer Baptiste-Primus, announced that Cabinet has agreed to the establishment of a National Tripartite Advisory Council (NTAC).

This decision is in keeping with the government’s philosophy of participatory governance and is in honour of a Memorandum of Agreement signed between the present government and the Joint Trade Union Movement (JTUM) prior to the 2015 general elections.

The formation of this council reaffirms the government’s thrust to involve all critical sectors of the national community in its decision making process. NTAC’s mandate is to provide sound and informed multi-sectoral advice to the government on a wide range of initiatives including the effective implementation of Vision 2030, the government’s policy document. It will also pursue initiatives such as the identification and review of sustainable national development goals, the development of a national campaign on productivity with a focus on proper work ethics and the evaluation of options which would result in the creation of job opportunities.

The council, which will be chaired by the Minister of Planning and Development, the Honourable Camille Robinson-Regis, is also tasked with engaging civil society and other organisations in discussions of nationwide importance.

Senator Baptiste-Primus also stated that letters will be dispatched to the heads of the various organisations inviting them to nominate their representatives, the most senior persons in their organisations, to sit on the council. The council will be comprised of nineteen (19) members – six (6) representatives of the private sector, six (6) union representatives and seven (7) government representatives.

The Council will be supported by a well-staffed secretariat and will be provided with its own administrative office accommodation. It will be officially inaugurated on Tuesday 15th March 2016 at 10:30 am at the Diplomatic Centre, St. Ann’s. The list of the

organisations as well as the Council’s full terms of reference will be presented at the official launch.

Chief Secretary of the Tobago House of Assembly (THA), the Honourable Orville London, also confirmed that matters relating to Tobago were on the agenda. He noted that today’s session served to further the process between the THA and central government to guarantee more effective delivery of services to the residents of Tobago.

Mr London, who was present during the Cabinet meeting, shared some of the issues which are important to Tobago’s development and was very heartened by the response and the collaborative way in which the Prime Minister and the members of Cabinet dealt with the issues raised.

Among the issues discussed was the matter of the Assembly Police Bill which the Attorney General, the Honourable Faris Al Rawi, agreed to tackle as a matter of priority. Mr. London is expected to continue the discussion of security issues during a meeting with the Minister of National Security, the Honourable Edmund Dillon, on Monday 7th March, 206 at 8:30am.

Support for the tourism sector in Tobago was also discussed with particular attention paid to some of the issues affecting the delivery of services in Tobago. Also discussed were the opportunities for Tobago to benefit from the government’s new strategy to involve the private sector in the delivery of affordable housing to citizens of Trinidad and Tobago.

Prime Minister, Dr. the Honourable Keith Rowley also addressed the media. Dr. Rowley revealed that Cabinet had agreed to address issues challenging the Magdalena Grand Beach and Golf Resort.

The hotel, which is owned by the state, is faced with declining occupancy levels and management issues.

To treat with the issue of low numbers of visitors to the hotel, and by extension the island, the Prime Minister noted that air travel to Tobago must be improved. In that light, the Ministries of Finance and Tourism, together with the THA, will discuss what role CAL can and must play to improve air access to Tobago. The modernisation of the Arthur Napoleon Raymond Robinson International Airport is also to be examined.

Furthermore, steps will be taken to attract an internationally recognised hotel brand to the Magdalena Grand as well as maximise the domestic market of visitors. The feasibility of constructing a breakwater and useable beach area at the hotel will also be explored.

Additionally, the Prime Minister stated that the Water and Sewerage Authority, together with the relevant agencies, will work on a long term solution to Tobago’s recurrent water shortage issues which may include a desalination plant.

Dr. Rowley also expressed Cabinet’s dissatisfaction with the expenditure and behaviour of the Tourism Development Corporation (TDC) and stated that other models of tourism development and marketing will be reviewed to facilitate and improvement over the present mechanism. A report will be submitted in three (3) months indicating which new model will be adopted.