For the first time since being sworn in as Chief Secretary, Farley Augustine has officially met with Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley.
The two had breakfast on Sunday at Dr Rowley’s official residence in Blenheim, Tobago.
“We had a conversation that was meant to break the ice,” Farley Augustine said.
On December 6, Augustine’s Progressive Democratic Patriots (PDP) defeated the People’s National Movement (PNM) 14-1 in the THA elections.
Augustine was at the Viewport Supermarket yesterday, where he was the featured speaker at the Supermarket Association’s presentation of the 2021 People’s Choice Award for Independent Supermarket.
He said their meeting was a welcomed start to their professional relationship.
“You could vehemently oppose someone’s political philosophies and still find a way to be cordial with that person,” he said.
Augustine said while he and the Prime Minister shared some laughs they also spent over two hours discussing Tobago’s development and the needs and requirement of the island.
“We did at some point do some assessment of where as an island we have gone wrong in the past, what the successes are and the things we can build upon. We did speak to some of the Central Government projects on the island and the kind of support that will be needed,” he explained.
He said they had a good start to the regular meetings required between them by law and he already has a topic that may be on the agenda for their next meeting – the high food prices on the island.
“It’s an issue that has to be addressed and it is a global issue,” the Chief Secretary added.
Augustine said with the increase of freight costs and the inconsistency of shipping, imported food prices have skyrocketed. He said some of these factors are outside the reach of the Association and the proprietors there may be something Government can do.
“A lot of the factors require Government intervention to try to remedy the situation…how we could just measure it in a way that makes food available especially basic food available to all,” he said.
Farley said more sectors of the economy need to reopen and it should be beyond Carnival.
“I don’t see how we could be having a conversation about Carnival events but we can’t have a conversation about opening the beach to 6 pm. To me the logic of that just does not make sense…it baffles my mind,” he said.
He said discussions are ongoing and he knows that those in the entertainment industry have suffered but they are not the only ones.
Farley said they don’t want to lock out the unvaccinated from the economy and reiterated his position of vaccination being a choice.
On Friday political leader of the PDP, Watson Duke revealed that he took the vaccine.
“The same kind of effort and work that went into members of the team working with Mr Duke from where he was and influencing him, and convincing him, and educating him and getting him and his family to a place of taking the vaccine is that same kind of work that we are going to be doing on the ground in Tobago,” he said.
Augustine said the THA’s vaccination rate is significantly under their goal and only 24,000 people took the jab on the island. He said this can affect work on the island.
“At this moment we are considering the matter of cruise ship but here is the reality that Tobagonians have to face these entities they are coming with people who are all 100 per cent vaccinated when they want only to be served by vaccinated service providers,” he explained.