Tobago gets $2.1B

Finance Minister, Winston Dookeran.
The Tobago House of Assembly (THA) is to receive $2.199 Billion to finance the governance of Tobago in fiscal 2012. Of this $1.861 million is for recurrent expenditure and$319 million for capital expenditure. The Budget is based on an oil price of US$75 and totals $54.6 Billion. The deficit is $7.6 Billion or 4.89 per cent of GDP.

In addition, Finance Minister Winston Dookeran disclosed in his almost four-hour presentation that the Assembly will receive $510 million under various other heads during the period. The THA received $1.7 Billion for fiscal 2011.

Dookeran presented his second Budget as Finance Minister in the present government yesterday (Monday 10th October 2011) at the new temporary parliament chamber at Tower D of the Waterfront Project in Port of Spain.

He acknowledged that the downturn in the tourism sector had hit Tobago hard and announced measures to assist in reviving the industry including a $100 million tourism development fund, as well as to work with the Assembly and other stakeholders in the development of the future of Tobago paying due regard to the operations of the THA Act No 40 of 1996. He also said the government will honour its pledge for constitutional reform leading to full internal self government for Tobago. He said most of the ground work has already been laid and a framework that would allow this period of consultation to culminate in real legislative action was now being worked out at the level of the offices of the Prime Minister and the Chief Secretary.

Dookeran said the slowdown in the global economy has significantly affected the Tobago tourism sector and its capacity to continue as the primary private sector driver of development on the island. “We understand the consequences of seeing a 60 per cent decline in tourism arrivals for Tobago between 2005 and 2010. These effects can be felt in almost every sector of the economy, from the fishermen in Charlotteville to the taxi drivers in Crown Point and the businessmen in Scarborough. The Finance Minister said the government will work with the Assembly to ensure that Tobago’s tourism product was appropriately positioned. He added that key to this positioning was the roll out of the tourism action plan to be implemented over a15-month period and which will provide financial incentives to investors in the industry for the resuscitation of the Tobago tourist product.

He said the $100 million fund will provide for the sustainability of the Tobago tourism product as well as provide for a government guarantee to be accessed by both existing hotel properties as well as new property developers.

Dookeran said similar consideration has also been given to private sector partners in Tobago on the advice of the THA as the government considered initiatives to support the Tobago economy throughout this lean period.

He said the integrated university campus embracing the UTT and UWI will be established in Tobago as well as the acquisition of the Friendship Estate for the establishment of an “energy bridge” to bring Tobago closer to Trinidad in the energy sector. He said a Free Zone will also be established.

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