Finance Secretary: ‘Tobago will do more with less’

“Positively challenging.”

That’s how Joel Jack, THA Secretary of Finance and Enterprise Development, is describing the country’s current economic climate. Commenting on Tobago’s fiscal 2017 budgetary allocation of $2.345 billion, Jack said the Tobago House of Assembly has managed well in the past. He stressed, however, that the island’s finances will require prudent management.

“Given the allocation, it cannot be business as usual,” Jack said at yesterday’s (October 5) post Executive Council media briefing at the Administrative Complex, Calder Hall. “We’ll have to be more productive. We’ll have to do more with less. And we’ll have to duly prioritise, and see how best we can manage in light of the current economic realities.”

On Friday (September 30), Finance Minister Colm Imbert announced during the national budget presentation that Tobago will receive $2.045 billion in recurrent expenditure, $289 million for development funding, and $20 million for the Unemployment Relief Programme (URP).

“We will continue looking at the numbers and see how best we can move forward,” Jack said.

The Secretary added that he was heartened when the Minister recognised in his presentation the need and approval for the Assembly to consider “alternative funding mechanisms,” such as public-private partnerships.

“I must commend the Minister for his statement outlining in detail the current situation in respect to the revenue and what has occurred as a result of the precipitous fall in oil and gas prices,” Jack said.

Chief Secretary Orville London told the media the Executive Council has already started discussions on the allocation to determine priority projects for the island.

“We have to determine those things that we have to do, those things that we can do, and those projects and programmes that just can’t be funded,” London said. “We have to commit to more delivery with fewer resources. We will make the final decisions next Wednesday (October 12).”

London added,“Managing the challenges and managing the environment is everybody’s business.”

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