‘We will have an empowered Tobago’ these were the words from Assemblyman Zorisha A. Hackett of the Progressive Democratic Patriots (PDP) in the fourth installment of the ‘Leh We Fix Dis’ series.
Assemblyman Hackett who is the area representative for Plymouth/Golden Lane took to the stage energetically and started her speech with lyrics to the song Persistence by Norris Man stating that persistence is to try and that the song reminded her of the PDP, that persistence from one man led to where they are now.
“ We persevere, we persist and we are out here to fix Tobago,” she stated.
She went on to state that the island of Tobago continues to languish in economic instability. “After having just been allocated 2.357 billion dollars for fiscal 2021/22 Tobago has found itself yet again in a position where we have to make do with what they gave us.” This was the opening for her issues to address the need to fix governance on the island.
The first issue she addressed was the absence of an international trading seaport in Tobago saying “It’s disgraceful because when you look at a map you see the advantageous position Tobago is in North-South TransAtlantic shipping lane we right there, imagine passing around Tobago to go to Trinidad goods and services just to be shipped backup, of course, the Tobagonian is going to be disadvantaged because you have to pay more for the goods and services.”
The second issue she addressed was the absence of a solid and versatile export sector, she stated that it was an ongoing issue of the islands’ inability to build a viable economy.
The next issue brought up by Assemblyman Hackett was the underemployment of Tobagonians in low productivity activity with earnings that are not equitable to the cost of living. She said, “workers are unable to benefit from a significant pay increase for over eight years.”
She further went on to state that even with those struggles they still had to deal with the underdevelopment of institutions that we’re unable to keep up with the challenges of innovation and competition on the global market.
“We have an education system that is struggling to build capacity to innovate and compete with the world at large causing the most educated amongst us to leave for greener pastures leading to brain drain as they cannot be employed right here.”
“ We also have a healthcare system that is locally focused and lacks the capacity to develop new and exportable health care solutions to problems emerging on the international marketplace. We have a tourism sector that was failing long before Covid so they can’t use that as an excuse because we have not been able to define the product we are trying to sell. We have an agricultural sector that is not given the focus it deserves because there is no consistent attention as it truly requires for us to get to a state of food security and food sovereignty,” she said.
She went on to state that Tobago was in a position where governance needed to be changed as the island cannot be developed unless a structure of good governance is established.
The election date for the THA is Monday 6th December.