THA to take legal action over $102M shortfall

The Tobago House of Assembly (THA) will take legal action against Central Government for the $102 million shortfall in its parliamentary allocation for the third quarter of fiscal 2015.

This was disclosed by THA Chief Secretary Orville London at Wednesday’s (May 13) weekly post Executive Council media briefing at the Administrative Complex in Calder Hall, Tobago.

He said the shortfall represents more than 20 per cent of the THA’s recurrent and development allocations approved by Parliament for the quarter.

London said because of the deficit, the Assembly cannot pay for goods and services it receives. It also cannot afford the wages, salaries and allowances of its monthly and daily-paid workers, and those employed with the Unemployment (URP) and Community-based Environmental Protection and Enhancement Programme (CEPEP).

The Chief Secretary said the THA’s budgetary allocation is passed by Parliament and, according to the THA Act, the Assembly should receive 25 per cent of its budgeted quota every three months “en bloc”(in full) and in advance.

He said Central Government cut Tobago’s allocation without consulting the THA, and to date, the Finance Ministry has not explained or rectified the situation.

“I have had discussions with the Senior State Counsel (of the THA) and I have asked him to get advice from Senior Counsel with a view of bringing a judicial review action against the Central Government for this act, which is unprovoked and untenable.”

London wants Tobagonians to understand the shortfall’s “implications”.

“What it means is that we have a situation where we are not going to be able to deal with a number of critical issues,” the Chief Secretary stated. “This would mean there will be challenges in the payment of wages and salaries, and of course we will have to do a review of our development programmes.

“We consider this action on the part of the Government, especially in a situation where they are not inclined to forego expenditure in any other area, to be provocative, if not vindictive on the part of the Government, especially in a run-up to a general election.”

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