Day: July 20, 2018

Government hopes to sign commercial agreements with Sandals before end of 2018

The Government is hoping to sign commercial agreements with Sandals Resort International (SRI) for a hotel in Tobago before the end of 2018, Communications Minister Stuart Young said on Tuesday.

Adam Stewart, Deputy Chairman of Sandals group, asked about concessions being granted to SRI, stating that a conversation about such was not yet had.

“It is a conversation that the Government of Trinidad and Tobago and Sandals have not had because we don’t yet know the commercial terms to the relationship. We have talked about local linkages and how we are going to support the agricultural sector in Tobago. Talking about further elements of linkages like tours and taxi transfers; these are the parts that drive the tourism product.”

Young, and Stewart were speaking at a press conference at the offices of the Buccoo/Golden Grove Limited in Scarborough following a closed- door meeting between Government and SRI officials, and a tour of the Buccoo/Golden Grove area.

Stewart told reporters the idea of a Sandals and Beaches resort in Tobago was totally conceptual at this point in time.

“It is until we do the environmentalist work, we won’t exactly know what buildings can go where and how many rooms in total but in just as we’ve conceptualized, the hotel will have something in the order of 800 keys in excess of 1,000 rooms, in excess of 1,800 to 2,000 permanent employees and the economic impact probably somewhere around US $80 million a year that goes in taxes,” he said.

Young reiterated that Government would build and own the hotel, and it would be managed and run by Sandals. He said discussions were ongoing on the structure of equity, that “we are looking at other equity partners and investors.”

“By the end of the year, and hopefully it would be a few months before the end of the year, we hope to have concluded the commercial agreements between ourselves and Sandals and move that to a signing ceremony and an execution. Between now and then, there are a couple other key and critical points that, as we are sure when they are going to happen, we would announce,” he said.

He also said that “we are going out with RFPs to now contract an environmental firm to work along with us and part of the process for the EMA would be the public consultation.

“We plan to go beyond that, we plan to go beyond what is legislatively required… another decision we’ve taken here on the Government’s part, we would go out just as we’ve done in the energy sector and we’ll find the best in class to advise the Government of Trinidad and Tobago as we go forward,” he said.

He said at the meeting between Government and SRI officials, timelines were discussed and “who has to do what going forward and who would be in charge of the various aspects of the project.

“So, for us that is a very positive step in the right direction. We also spoke about how we would be approaching the EMA, the Town and Country and all the other statutory agencies that we have to interact with. We have completed the surveys and the topographical surveys as well, so all of that was fed into the machinery,” he said.

As for the tour of the Bucco/Golden Grove area, Young said this was “to get a better understanding of what we’re facing with the land.”

Stewart said that the purpose of the tour was to look at places along the site and get a better understanding of the property. He described the tour as presenting a fundamental shift in the discussions.

“We came equipped with quite a lot of thoughts that until you get onto the land, you cannot really actualise and see to it what exactly is possible. We leave here more excited than we arrived at the prospects of what can be done. We had the environmentalists with us, which is probably the most critical component of the conversation at this point to understand what are the considerations and the conversations that need to be had around the development,” he said.

Asked about the involvement of Tobagonians in discussions to build the resort, Stewart said the environment work would drive what the development can become.

“We have just today arrived at that stage, having physically walked with the environmentalists, the process will begin now to formulate, tender and contract those environmentalists.

“That report becomes the baseline of what Sandals will present and say this is what we think we should do. At that point, probably somewhere within a 60-day period from today, give or take a week or two… at that point is when we would have a town hall where all stakeholders within the linkages sector will be,” Stewart said.

National Crime Prevention Programme; dawn of a new era

Minister of National Security, Edmund Dillon said the time has come for citizens, government and law enforcement to put their differences aside and unite in the war against crime.

Elements of the NCPP were first mentioned by Rowley at a PNM convention in 2016 and again in the 2018 budget presentation last October. “The National Crime Prevention Programme is not a reactive measure, but one intended to limit future instance of crime and criminality,” Dillon said, adding that it is part of Vision 2030.

He said the NCPP reflects the dawn of a new era and will consists of an inter ministerial committee and other officers of the programme to carry out its mandate.

Dillon stated that the Government is seeking to operationalize DNA detection and testing on crime scenes, as such, officers are being trained and legislation prepared. Additionally, Electronics Monitoring Devices (bracelets) are set to come on stream as an invitation to tender is already out.

Local Government and Rural Development Minister, Kazim Hosein, said the NCPP is a collaborative effort with all arms of government. “We will work for the community, in the community and with the community.”

In fulfilling one of Government’s promises in its 2015 manifesto – the NCPP – which became Government policy, Young said the only way to tackle crime head-on was the involvement of every patriot of T&T.

“So I must register a bit of disappointment this morning on behalf of the Government of T&T, that we invited every single member of the Opposition…as a Member of Parliament and as a Senator and unfortunately they have not turned up.”

Young said Chaguanas Mayor Gopaul Boodhan, who was listed as a speaker at the launch, also failed to show up.

“Citizens, crime is not about politics. And from the time we begin to politicise crime and the issues of crime and wish that the scourge of crime continues to develop in the hope that it mars a Government…and make a Government look bad you are failing your country and wider national community.”

He pleaded for all to come together to do whatever we can to tackle frontally the issue of crime.

“Don’t shirk that responsibility and duty.”

Asked after the launch if the Opposition gave a reason for not attending, Young replied, “Not that I am aware of. It’s quite unfortunate that none of them came here today on this national crime prevention programme.”

Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi, who was also present, said the absence of Boodhan was startling “because the MPs for that area have been crying out for the attention and specific focus of taking Chaguanas as one of the pilot projects was very targeted and intended.”

Dillon said he was aware of the challenges society faces as a result of crime.

“Crime affects all of us. There is no doubt about that. It saddens me deeply to hear the loss of life increasingly through the acts of violence, especially with the use of weapons and ammunition.”

He said crime was being perpetrated by a small group of criminals who have been “spreading fear and discord in our beloved country.”

He reiterated the call to all law-abiding citizens, police officers and the Government to unite and to reclaim T&T from those who are supportive of criminality and lawlessness.

“The time has come for all of us to put all differences of opinion aside and work together as one cohesive unit to let the criminal elements know in society that they will never get the upper hand on us. We will never surrender. As a matter of fact, failure should never be an option.”

The programme will be implemented on a phased basis and 15 community crime prevention councils, representing 14 regional corporations and the Tobago House of Assembly (THA), will interface directly with communities to determine their needs and respond appropriately.

“The NCPP heralds the beginning of a new era of development and stability for our people and our country, by promoting and facilitating good order as well as transparent and accountable governance. Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.”

Among the measures implemented, Dillon said, was the strengthening of the T&T Police Service, Strategic Services Agency, Defence Force Intelligence Unit and T&T Prisons Intelligence Unit.

“Yes, the T&T Prisons Intelligence Unit, because we believe and we have found the prisons provide a great deal of intelligence…an area of intelligence which we would not normally have.”