The Inter American Development Bank (IDB) will not get into the middle of discussions between Tobago and Trinidad for a share of the US$300 million bank loan to rehabilitate the nation’s roads.
IDB president Luis Alberto Moreno said he was sure THA Chief Secretary Orville London will have a long list of roads he wanted fixed in Tobago. “I am not going to get into the middle of that negotiations, what I can say is that we will be participating in the process,” he told reporters following a 45-minute meeting with THA officials at the Coco Reef Resort, Crown Point, Tobago yesterday. (Wednesday 9th February 2011)
He said it was a very useful meeting to talk about the possibilities that existed between the bank and Tobago, adding that some of the requests included working on the challenges that Tobago had especially climate change, housing, clean energy and more importantly on climate change.
Moreno said what the bank was hoping to achieve now as they go forward was to work with the Government of T&T to include Tobago in what was called the country strategy – the way that the bank operated vis a vis the country.
He noted that there were a number of issues that have to be resolved between Tobago and Trinidad because it was a kind of a traffic light in terms of the way the bank did things in member countries, which was to administer and done through the Minister of Finance who basically committed the resources for the country that were part and parcel of whatever loan agreement that was done.
Asked whether there a problem with Tobago going directly to the bank for loans, Luis said there were procedural issues in the way that a country as such engaged with the bank and there was a relationship that occurred with any sub national government. He said this was the problem the bank had with States or local government in any big country in the hemisphere and the way that this has been resolved was using basically its bye laws to work through the Ministry of Finance that will make the decisions as to how they wanted it to proceed. “In any event we do a country strategy where the country and the bank agree which are the areas of intervention that we are going to do and of course we include Tobago in the country strategy and therefore we will understand where the country wants us to be and what they want us to do, in this case Tobago” Luis stressed.
Chief Secretary London said he was happy with the outcome of the meeting which sent a powerful signal by the bank that for the first time its President should come to Tobago.
He said the discussions made the Assembly much more aware of the processes and procedures of the bank and placed it in a position where it was better able to strategise as it went forward. “Obviously there has to be in the initial stages more collaboration between us and the Ministry of Finance in relationship to how the loans that are arranged, how those loans are going to be utilised because it would mean that you are going to have a special funding agreement.
London said the way the THA was funded from the national budget and these off budget loans, most of the time historically has not benefitted Tobago therefore discussions will have to be held with the Minister of Finance on how Tobago and the THA were going to benefit from loans for housing, loans for road repairs and so on, so that was the first order of business.
He said Tobago was yet involved in formulating the country strategy, the policy for which was now being written and expected that the THA will be much more involved than it has been because that was going to be the foundation for the relationship between the THA and between Tobago and the Central Government.
London said the Assembly was also looking at accessing bilateral grants for small projects because all that will be require was a waiver from the Central Government. He said he was hoping to have discussions with the bank’s representative at the local and regional levels to be in a position to treat with those smaller areas, those smaller projects which can be funded through the IDB.