Budget encouraging, but don’t expect economic miracles

“A fair share of the national cake.”

That’s how THA Chief Secretary Orville London described Tobago’s budget allocation, which was announced by Minister of Finance Colm Imbert on Monday (October 5, 2015).

The Tobago House of Assembly will get $2.772 billion (or 4.4 percent of the national budget), with $2.345 billion earmarked for recurrent expenditure. The rest will cover capital expenditure ($404 million) and the Unemployment Relief Programme ($23 million). This has increased by 6.2 percent increase from last year’s $2.6 billion allocation, according to Finance Secretary Joel Jack.

The Chief Secretary is pleased with the resources Tobago will receive—including a further $1.13 billion in recurrent expenditure—considering the country’s economic challenges. He believes that a partnership is now developing between Central Government and the THA, something that was missing under the previous administration, which hampered Tobago’s development.

“We recognise that all the sectors in Tobago are likely to benefit once their proposals are operationalised,” London said. He added that Central Government’s commitment to improve inter-island transportation will boost domestic tourism.

Despite the improving relationship between Central Government and the Assembly, London said Tobagonians must be aware of the current economic challenges.

“I don’t want anybody to go away with the impression that because of the relationship that there are going to be some economic miracles,” he said, adding that there are “limitations to the options available to us.”

London said due to the state of the economy, the THA will have to prioritise its projects.

The Chief Secretary is also happy that Tobago’s interests are now being represented on State boards.

“No longer can we complain about not having representation on boards like WASA, the Airport Authority, the Port Authority, and the National Carnival Commission,” he said.

Later this month, the THA Secretaries and other representatives will meet for in-depth budget discussions, including the individual allocations to Divisions. The THA will the hold a second budget presentation in November, following its budget proposal in June.

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