The Tobago House of Assembly (THA) plans to establish a Tobago Project Development Authority in an effort to assist in the procurement of public private sector financing of projects on the island.
The Assembly Legislature has agreed with the decision of the Executive Council to establish such an authority as part of the Assembly’s on-going strategy of institutional strengthening.
A Motion proposed by Finance and Enterprise Development Secretary Joel Jack was debated at the plenary sitting of the House on Thursday. (28th November 2013).
The House also agreed to endorse the initiative of the Executive Council to strengthen the private sector, by expanding business financing options through its Venture Capital Fund initiative at the Business Development Unit and deepening its Public Private Partnership (PPP) arrangements, thereby facilitating the achievement of its development goals, as it fashions a competitive and resilient economy.
Jack told the House that reputable international agencies such as the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the Inter American Development Bank (IDB) supported the use of the PPP to fill the gap for financing development projects. He said the Central Government had also approved a PPP policy and had engaged the system for the construction of several projects including the Ministry of Works Building, the National Library, the Desalination Plan and the Unit Trust Building in Trinidad and the Dwight York Stadium in Tobago.
He said the IDB has given the Assembly the commitment to help the Assembly in establishing a PPP Unit. He said the Ministry of Finance has also given its commitment to assist and a team of technocrats from that Ministry will be in Tobago in December for meetings with their counterparts at the Division of Finance and Enterprise Development for discussions on the matter.
Jack said the Central Government had failed or neglected to make the necessary amendments to the current THA Act, as reflected in the will of the people, to accord the Assembly the requisite funding, power and authority, to enable it to effectively execute its functions, policies and programmes.
He said the 2013-2017 Tobago Comprehensive Economic Development Plan adopted by the House at an earlier sitting outlined several strategic priority areas designed to accelerate the Assembly’s Public Sector Investment Programme (PSIP). He noted that Tobago’s optimistic economic prospects; notwithstanding, its PSIP has been impacted negatively by a dearth of funding.
Jack said the Assembly has been engaged in the PPP initiatives in the past, in an effort to advance the island’s development agenda, thereby ensuring that Tobagonians reaped the benefits of such decisive and progress action, taken in their best interest. He added that State-owned Urban Development Company Limited (UDeCOTT) has been engaged in undertaking several projects in Tobago.
Deputy Chief Secretary and Secretary of Tourism and Transportation Tracy Davidson-Celestine said regional governments had gone ahead with the PPP to build roads, hotels, marinas and sea ports. She said if Tobago did not fall in line its efforts to boost the tourism industry would go to nought.
Settlements and Labour Secretary Huey Cadette said the PPP was needed to finance the Assembly’s housing programme, while Assistant Secretary Deon Isaac said the PPP system should be used while the Assembly awaited the amendments to the Act to allow it to borrow money.