Budget Brings Hope

In the wake of Monday’s (October 1) national budget, Chief Secretary Kelvin Charles is hopeful that there are opportunities for development in Tobago over the next fiscal year.

The budget, read by Finance Minister Colm Imbert, allocated $2.29 billion to Tobago for fiscal 2019, up from $2.1936 billion in the just-concluded financial year. In a subsequent interview, the Chief Secretary said the island is experiencing growth.

He said Tobago has the options of alternative financing, such as public-private partnerships and the latitude to borrow up to $300 million to further the island’s development.

“…From where I sit,” Charles said, “the outlook is good for us to continue our developmental thrust, particularly in our construction sector, as we seek to ramp up our economic activities so as to continue the progress of the island, and to continue the path of growth.”

Charles described the budget as “practical, pragmatic and forward-looking”. He believes the Finance Minister has achieved the balance between reducing the budget deficit and remaining fiscally responsible. He also said the budget reflected efforts to alleviate the challenges of the “poor and more vulnerable in the society”.

The Chief Secretary described the future as “hopeful”, given that the country is emerging from a period of “tremendous restraint”.

Charles also remarked that he is seeing some positive change in attitudes the development of Tobago. He gave an example from the tourism sector.

“[The Tobago Tourism] Agency would have put together a three-year strategic development plan, but they didn’t do it alone. It involved the key stakeholders in the tourism sector,” he stated.

The Chief Secretary added that such collaboration will continue, which is in line with the vision statement “Building Tobago Community By Community”.

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