Chief Secretary Orville London said the 2014 budget demonstrated the very cynical and total disregard of the aspirations of the people of Tobago by the Government.
Dealing specifically with the realities facing Tobago and the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) at this time he said the Assembly has not been unreasonable in its approach to the Minister of Finance and the Central Government because they understood the realities of the situation.
“We told the Minister that we know that you cannot find the money to give everybody what they asked for but use the same methods and the same strategies that you use in Trinidad, use it for Tobago. Give us the same opportunity in Tobago like in housing,” London recalled.
He the Assembly had over 6,000 applicants for Assembly-built homes but by the Minister’s actions he had ignored the plight of those people.
“We are going to fight Central Government to get as much as we can,” he told constituents of Lambeau/Signal Hill at the seventh meeting in the Assembly’s democratisation programme at the Signal Hill Secondary School on Thursday night.
London said the Assembly was preparing a document to take to the Minister and the country so that the Minister and the country and the people of Tobago can see that it was something that was national and something that was needed and something that was deserved.
He said the Assembly did not have enough but life must go on and if the Central Government wanted to be pressured the Assembly would need the support of Tobagonians. He assured Tobagonians that nobody would lose their jobs while the social impact and the human resource development programmes would continue despite the allocation of $2.477 in the budget for Tobago.
He added that Tobagonians were resilient people and they would not be bullied or be frustrated and regardless would not be pressured. He said this had nothing to do with the PNM of which he was a deputy political leader but the people of Tobago must understand the role they have to play. “Basically we are living in serious times,” he said.
London said his administration has been doing magic with budget allocations for the past 12 years and would continue to do this.
In response to a question from the floor, the Chief Secretary said State-owned Caribbean Airlines Limited (CAL) has never demonstrated sympathy to Tobago as opposed to the international airlines which had provided more assistance to the island. “Our concern is not just about the airfare, we do not think CAL would be in a position to help Tobago’s tourism thrust,” London said.