The Tobago House of Assembly (THA) is yet to receive the $100 million parliamentary allocation approved for the health sector in Tobago in the 2012 budget.
The allocation was approved to fund the completion of the new Scarborough General Hospital which was scheduled to be fully commissioned in September. Several efforts by THA Chief Secretary Orville London, Finance and Enterprise Development Secretary Dr Anselm London and Secretary of Health and Social Services Claudia Groome-Duke to get the money released by the Ministry of Finance have so far been futile.
Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar had said at the first phase of the commissioning of the institution at Signal Hill on April 4 2012 that her People’s Partnership government would have provided all the resources necessary to have the hospital fully commissioned by September. However, with just over two months to go to this date and the end of the 2012 fiscal year the possibility of the THA receiving the fund seems remote.
Chief Secretary London and Dr London have both insisted that if the $100 million was not received within the fiscal year, the central government would be in breach of the THA Act and the Dispute Resolution Commission DRC) ruling that the THA must receive between 4.03 per cent and 6.9 per cent of the national budget. The parliamentary allocation for the THA in fiscal 2012 was $3.1 billion.
Dr London recently wrote new Finance Minister Larry Howai drawing his attention to the outstanding $100 million to the THA. Howai told reporters at the Coco Reef Resort last week that he had asked his Permanent Secretary to look into the situation.
Health Minister Dr Fuad Khan also told reporters that he was aware of the situation and was lobbying for the release of the funds as soon as possible so that the hospital can be fully commissioned as planned.