Member of Parliament for Cova North, Ramona Ramdial is calling on newly installed Tobago House of Assembly (THA) Chief Secretary, Ancil Dennis to come clean and explain how, what she refers to as “questionable ghost hotels” have qualified to be on their listing as recipients for the $50 million COVID-19 relief fund.
In a media statement Ms Ramdial alleged that based on information coming from the Tobago Hotel & Tourism Association (THTA) there are at least 270 unregistered, unknown hotel businesses listed for funding out of the total of 449 hotels listed. She says the THTA has rejected the list done by Tobago Tourism Agency Limited (TTAL) since they have included unregistered hoteliers.
Ms Ramdial notes that the THTA has proposed that the distribution of the $50million be sent to the Business Development Unit of the Division of Community Development, Enterprise & Labour. She adds that they are also claiming that many small and medium hotels will not benefit from this fund as the application process was difficult and that the large accommodation sector, which employs over 1000 workers was given the smallest proportion of the relief fund.
The MP is now urging Chief Secretary Dennis to consider and implement the alternative proposal for relief distribution sent in by THTA. She states that failure to incorporate the THTA recommendations will be seen as a strategy of election campaigning by the PNM led THA to distribute free money to these “undeserving, unregistered” hotels.
She says that after three years the police investigations into the missing $10million allegedly stolen by THA officers are still ongoing. She says as such, in the name of transparency and accountability the management and distribution of the $50 million must move away from the THA as suggested by THTA.