Secretary of Finance and Enterprise Development, Assemblyman Joel Jack, has said that the $2.55 billion requested for the development programme would permit massive improvements in the island’s physical infrastructure.
Key projects include the Milford coastal protection programme at a cost of $18 million, construction of sea defence walls at a cost of $32 million, major improvement work on secondary roads at a cost of $53 million, Windward Road at a cost of $15 million, road resurfacing programme at a cost of $35 million, Plymouth/Arnos Vale Road at a cost of $11 million, and the Milford Road upgrade at a cost of $20 million.
The budget also includes a programme to encourage enterprise development entrepreneurship. An allocation of $6.5 million is requested for the Enterprise Development Company of Tobago, $2 million is requested to provide Venture Capital funding for investment in emerging industries, and $22.1 million is requested for the establishment of a fish processing company in Tobago.
To assist in satisfying the enormous demand for housing in Tobago, the budget also includes an ambitious programme for housing and settlements. Among the key projects are the Castara Housing Estate Development ($24.1 million), Blenheim Housing Estate Phase II ($43.1 million), Courland Estate Land Development ($73 million), Mt Irvine Housing Development ($56.3 million), Friendship Estate Land Development ($78.5 million) and Adventure Phase II ($15.4 million).
Jack said that the development estimates provide for a number of projects to upgrade community infrastructure in villages. Among the priority projects in the next fiscal year are the upgrade of Canaan/Bon Accord Community Centre at a cost of $9 million, the upgrade of Charlotteville Community Centre at a cost of $9 million, the upgrade of Belle Garden Community Centre at a cost of $11 million, the upgrade of Pan Theatres throughout Tobago at a cost $10 million, and the establishment of the Orange Hill Community Workshop and Art Gallery at a cost of $10 million.
He added that the development programme estimates also give priority attention to upgrading educational and sporting facilities on the island. The development budget provides for the construction of Scarborough R.C. at a cost of $20 million, the establishment of Early Childhood Centres at a cost of $3 million, beginning operations of the New Scarborough Library at cost of $3 million, the establishment of a skills development centre at Whim at a cost of $2 million, the Bacolet aquatic complex at a cost of $3 million, and upgrading the Canaan/Bon Accord Recreational Ground at a cost $4.5 million.
Among the priorities outlined in this budget is the revitalisation and stimulation of the agricultural sector in Tobago. Key projects include the improvement of the facilities at the Charlotteville breeding unit at a cost of $1.1 million, the establishment of a centralised composting facility at Goldsborough at a cost of $3 million, the construction of the new Scarborough market at a cost of $20.2 million, and repairs to the old Scarborough market at a cost of $6.8 million.
Jack said that. notwithstanding attempts to diversify the Tobago economy, the tourism sector continues to be very important to the island. He added: “Our development estimates cater for a number of programmes to ensure our recent successes in the tourism sector are not compromised. Our budget gives priority attention to revitalising our tourism sector”.
Among the projects are the Fort King George Heritage Park at a cost of $12 million, additional tourism marketing at a cost of $10 million, the purchase of land at Pirates Bay at a cost of $6 million, the restoration of historical sites at a cost of $1 million, and the restoration of historical sites at Cove Estate at a cost of $1.2 million.