Finance Minister to meet THA representatives on budget

Tobago House of Assembly.
Finance Minister Larry Howai will meet representatives of the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) by the end of this month “to have meaningful discussions with the THA” on its $4.95 billion budget that was presented by Finance Secretary Joel Jack on June 24.

Howai said he will meet with Chief Secretary Orville London and Jack “to discuss in detail the request which Tobago has, not just for recurrent expenditure, but also for dealing with the national development needs”.

He added that all the government ministries had submitted large requests so “we would have to prioritise”. The Finance Ministry is currently working on the 2014 national budget due to be presented by Howai before the end of the fiscal year in September.

Howai was speaking at a media briefing following a three-hour meeting with London, Jack, other THA Secretaries and Tobago tourism stakeholders at the Magdalena Grand Resort and Spa in Lowlands, Tobago on Sunday.

The Finance Minister under whose remit is State-owned Caribbean Airlines Limited (CAL) said the meeting also discussed the service being provided by the airline. He added that the airline had been mandated to meet with representatives of the Assembly and other tourism stakeholders on the matter.

The refurbishment of the ANR Robinson International Airport and the construction of a new terminal were also raised at the meeting. Cadiz said at a meeting with the Airports Authority earlier this year the refurbishment works were promised but to date there had not been any significant work done. He said the Ministry of Works had also signed a contract for designs for the new terminal.

Cadiz said a new Trinidad and Tobago brand for the tourism sector will be launched at the World Travel Market in London in November.

He said the Government was looking at introducing maritime legislation in the light of recent accidents at sea.

London said the Assembly’s representatives had discussed with the Ministers the declaring of the Cove Eco Business and Industrial Park as a special economic area and Tobago as a duty free economic zone. They also discussed the licensing regime under the Financial Investment Act “which was retarding investment in Tobago”. He said a committee was set up to go into this problem and come up with a solution that will ensure land prices remain within reach of the ordinary nationals of Trinidad and Tobago.

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