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PNM Political Leader, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley speaks at the launch of the PNM’s campaign for the January 25 Tobago House of Assembly elections, last night.

Camille McEachnie

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley said last night the Government had to source $16 billion more than the 2020 budgetary allocation to assist the country through the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr. Rowley was addressing the audience at the PNM Tobago Council’s 2021 campaign launch and presentation of candidates for the January 25 THA elections.

He said Tobago got its fair share of the budgetary pie and attributed this to a “smooth cooperation and association” between the People’s National Movement (PNM)- led Central Government and Executive Council in the Tobago House of Assembly (THA).

“We had to go and find $16 billion additional to the budget of last year October to be able to fund our arrangement through a pandemic to be where we are today,” the PM told his audience.

He said despite the country’s financial constraints, Tobago’s future had not been “stymied … it has been accelerated.”

He listed the Roxborough Fire Station, Roxborough Hospital, and funding of the ANR Robinson International Airport expansion projects as evidence of growth.

Dr Rowley said the latter project would ensure the island is ready for the tourism industry’s resurgence after the pandemic.

Speaking about the THA elections, he said people were asking for the other parties to get the opportunity to control Tobago.

“There are aspirants in Tobago saying ‘give them a chance’. This is not a bingo. It is not Play Whe. It is not the horse race track. This is the future of the children and all the people of Trinidad and Tobago.”

Stopping short of naming the Progressive Democratic Patriots’ (PDP) leader Watson Duke, Rowley addressed public servants directly.

“Let me say something to a lot of you people, especially public servants in Tobago who have a job and who believe this is none of your business and you are secure, you go and put someone in office who believes that he vex with everybody and they believe you did not support them enough or at all and treat you the same way they treat their union members after the last elections.”

Duke, who is also President of the Public Services Association (PSA), sent 20 PSA workers on vacation leave immediately after the PSA elections last month.

Tobago Council Island leader Tracy Davidson-Celestine, who also spoke at the meeting, echoed a similar sentiment.

She, too, did not name the PDP. She said another party would “stall or completely derail Tobago’s recovery projects.”

She said the PDP’s current leadership is similar to “a headless horseman.”

More on the THA Elections on page 9.