Tobago businesses say they are concerned about the Tobago House of Assembly now having the ability to borrow money on the international market, and cannot endorse it.
That’s the word from Diane Hadad, of the Tobago arm of the T&T Chamber of Industry and Commerce.
During the recent presentation of the 2020 Budget, Finance Minister Colm Imbert announced that the Tobago House of Assembly would now have the ability to raise financing for Tobago development projects via bonds worth some US$300 million.
And Finance Secretary Joel Jack stated that Tobago has been working with ratings agency Moody's for several years on creating its credit rating, and currently is at BAA-1 Stable.
Diane Hadad says Tobago businesses are still very uncomfortable about the new funding thrust for the THA, especially since the primary source of income for Tobago is the T&T Treasury, which implies that the central government may be the guarantor for any bonds raised.
With respect to Tobago tourism, she says businessmen are adopting a wait and see approach to how things will unfold at the Magdalena Grand Hotel, now that government has revealed it will be managed by the Apple Leisure Group.
She says they are waiting to see which of the many international brands managed by the Group, will actually take residence in Tobago.
The group has a presence in Costa Rica, Curacao, Panama, Dominican Republic and Cancun. It operates 14 brands, including Dreams, Secrets, Breathless and Sunscape, among others.
Diane Hadad says government needs to disclose some of the conditions surrounding the agreement with Apple Leisure Group, especially which entity is responsible for the upkeep and upgrade of the Magdelena Grand itself.
Ms Hadad says Tobago businessmen are not very excited over the provisions for Tobago in the 2020 Budget, and says what is really needed is serious capital injection in tourism and agriculture, among other sectors, in order to rebuild economic confidence on the sister isle.
She also notes the sea-bridge and air-bridge are still not functioning as they should, with the result that citizens still have not regained confidence that the trauma to the inter-island transport crisis has been resolved.
Story by NEWS DESK