THA deputy chief secretary at Dubai expo: Invest in Tobago

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

BLUEPRINT: THA deputy chief secretary Watson Duke with a $100 note in this screen grab from a video posted to his Facebook page, of his presentation on Thursday, at the Dubai Expo in the United Arab Emirates. –

TOBAGO House of Assembly (THA) deputy chief secretary Watson Duke said the island is poised to be the green economic hub of the southern Caribbean, but in order to achieve this, investments must be made.

He made this comment while speaking on the topic, The blueprint of the green economy, on Thursday at the TT Business Forum and National Day, at the Dubai Expo 2020 in the United Arab Emirates.

As he spoke on the podium next to a large flat screen TV, he said that in the context of his presentation, the word blueprint was not a document with a set of rules.

“In Trinidad and Tobago, if you didn’t know, our money is all colours,” Duke said as he proceeded to pull out a hundred-dollar bill from his pants pocket.

Waving the blue $100 note, he said, “In order for us to achieve the green economy, we need the blue prints (money). So my appeal to investors today is to let you know, Tobago is ideal for investing in. It is under the hurricane belt, it is 300 square miles and it is an island of extremely friendly people.”

Duke is the THA’s representative in the 16-member strong TT delegation participating in the expo which is ongoing. He arrived in Dubai last Tuesday and made his pitch to investors on Thursday.

Duke admitted to certain levels of poverty and hunger in Tobago. “The people are homogeneous, so the issue of inequality only exists in so far as the ability to pay one’s bills. Yes, there is some level of poverty, there is some level of hunger because a lot of the work are what we call make-work and part of the sustainable goals of the UN is to eradicate poverty and to produce decent work in a good economy. We want to do that.”

In this screen grab, Duke speaks to the audience next to a large-screen television which showed images of what Tobago would look like as part of the green economy initiative. –

Paying particular attention to the village of Roxborough, he went through a video presentation which specifically spoke to development proposed under the green economy initiative.

“We are wiping out poverty, we are also of the strong view that in order to provide quality education, we need to provide education that is relevant. And so, within that whole framework, we have an agriculture institute because the food we produce, the animals we would rear – they have a distinct taste. It is a Tobago brand – you have to come to Tobago; you have to eat the meat or look at the animals, they look different – it’s all organic.”

He said there is also a plan to ensure that inequalities are reduced as he pointed out a housing development earmarked for construction as part of the green economy.

“What we’re trying to say now – gone are the days when we have distinct communities; the rich and the poor – the Beverly Hills and the ghetto, we don’t want that. All of our communities we are going to build, going forward, mixed communities. There must be homes that are affordable, gone are the days when you have unaffordable homes.

“We have persons working for less than US$50 per week, that says a lot. We want to reduce poverty and we are providing homes in this upcoming year and beyond, that are reasonably priced and that everyone could afford.”

He said that Tobago is strategically placed to aid investors wanting to do business with other countries in the region. He said this can be facilitated by way of an international container/cargo port which will accommodate cargo ships coming from the Panama Canal since these ships must pass through Tobago’s territorial waters.

Saying there is no international cargo port in the Caribbean with islands having a port that deals specifically for their import/export needs, Duke said this proposed international port would be one for transshipment, “where you can drop your goods there and persons from South America can come and take it up.”

He urged investors to see Tobago as an opportunity to make serious money while at the same time helping the island’s development.

“Mind you we already have got persons interested in these things. But the deal isn’t closed as yet so you can get involved. The cargo port stands to make millions of dollars,” he said.

He also spoke to the massive potential to make a profit by investing in casinos, malls and entertainment hubs to be found in the New Marina Bay Islands which he said mirrors Dubai’s own world famous man-made Palm Islands.