Dr Denise Tsoiafatt-Angus, centre, plays hopscotch along the roadway in Glamorgan while Ayanna Webster-Roy, right and other People’s National Movement supporters look on during a walkabout last Tuesday.

The People’s National Movement (PNM), Progressive Democratic Patriots (PDP) and One Tobago Voice are ready to contest the general elections on August 10.

Moments after Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley announced the date, People’s National Movement’s Tobago council chairman Stanford Callender, People’s Democratic Party deputy Farley Augustine and the One Tobago Voice said they will all field candidates for the two Tobago seats.

Callender told Guardian Media the party “aims to win the two seats again,” adding they had already kicked off the campaign on the island. Both incumbents Ayanna Webster-Roy (Tobago East) and Shamfa Cudjoe (Tobago West) have been campaigning on the ground with members of their constituency since being retained for another run at office, he said.

“We have been doing many things all along and are ready for the election. We passed one of our major hurdles of selecting candidates and have been on the ground,” Callender said.

Asked whether the PDP or One Tobago Voice posed a challenge to the PNM retaining the two seats, Callender said the party “will not be sidetracked. It’s a democracy and we aim to win. We welcome whoever wants to enter the race.”

While the PNM will contest the election under the general theme “PNM is the choice,” he said he Tobago Council has created a subtheme— “Uniting to win.”

PDP deputy leader Farley said his party was also confident of success.

“It’s time to change Tobago’s members of Parliament,” Farley told Guardian Media, adding the party “wasn’t surprised” by the election date and was “ready and waiting all along.”

The PDP began campaigning in November 2019 when it launched its national and Tobago Hosue of Assembly campaign at the Magdalena Grand Beach and Golf Resort. Within recent weeks they upped their campaign and began repairing house roofs across the island. Leader Watson Duke will represent Tobago East and Tashia Grace-Burris Tobago East.

One Tobago Voice, a coalition of three parties, is also ready, according to Hochoy Charles (Platform of the Truth).

The group consists of former Tobago Forwards leader Christlyn Moore and Tobago Organisation of the People head Ashworth Jacks.

Charles, chairman of the One Tobago Voice’s steering committee, said, “We will field two candidates to represent the people of Tobago at the national level.”

Also commenting on the election date yesterday, Tobago Business Chamber head Martin George said his organisation supports the shorter, less hectic season.

“We think that the longer it drags on, the more disruptive it is for business and we are definitely happy that the time frame is shortened in this way, so in that regard, we have no difficulty in the date being the 10th of August,” George said.

Sending a message to the political parties who may form the next government, George reiterated some Tobago issues he would like to see addressed, including the repeal of the Foreign Investment Act, which, he said, will aid in stimulating the country’s economy. “Once that is freed up you will see massive inflows of foreign exchange into Tobago and that will also help with the national foreign exchange scenario. We will also ensure that this must be done in a manner that there’s a knowledge transfer and an exchange of labour, so therefore you must always insist that persons partner with local investors for any foreigners who are wishing to invest in Tobago.”

He also called for a greater reliance on persons in Tobago who can provide skills and services for development projects. George said the only way to rebuild the island’s economy was for the Government to ensure there is an effective incubation system promoting growth of the entrepreneurial spirit of independent business people in Tobago.