Black Immigrant Daily News
File photo: PNM Tobago Council political leader Ancil Dennis.
SINCE the Farley Augustine-led THA assumed office in December 2021, six of Tobago’s major contractors have collectively laid off close to 1,000 workers in the island’s construction sector.
PNM Tobago Council political leader Ancil Dennis made the claim on Tuesday during a news conference at the party’s headquarters in Scarborough.
Saying the construction sector has been brought to a “screeching halt” under this administration, Dennis said several projects which began under the former PNM-led THA, have since been stopped. They included the Bacolet Indoor Sporting Facility, Goodwood Pavilion and the Whim Skills Centre.
He said data from six of Tobago’s larger contractors revealed there has been widespread retrenchment within the sector.
For example, he claimed under the PNM, a contractor who had hired 388 people now employs 17. In another case, a contractor who once employed 72 people now employs nine.
Dennis claimed the six contractors, who collectively hired 1063 workers, have retained just 97.
“They had to lay off 966 people. That is a lay-off percentage of 88 per cent,” he told reporters.
Dennis said as a result, many of the contractors are having difficulty paying their debts.
“I have had private and confidential conversations with some individuals from commercial banks, and the information given to me is that the delinquency rates in the last days of the PNM was around one per cent among that sector, which simply means that most of those businesses were able to service their debts and pay their loans and maintain their other commitments. Currently, that has increased to 38 per cent.”
He added, “I want to say to the people of Tobago that this is the result of the direct, wicked and vindictive actions of the then PDP (Progressive Democratic Patriots) now independent administration, and all of us are aware of what transpired.”
Dennis claimed those contractors have been blacklisted in favour of Trinidad contractors.
“The question is, where are these 966 persons? Are they out there unemployed, or were they hired by the Trinidad contractors currently operating on the island?”