Ahead of the 2017/2018 national budget set to be delivered on October 2, Tobago House of Assembly (THA) Chief Secretary Kelvin Charles revealed on Monday that he has met with Finance Minister Colm Imbert in one of two scheduled meetings to fine-tune allocations for certain Tobago sectors, specifically tourism.
In an interview following the installation ceremony for the new board of the Tobago Hospitality and Tourism Institute on Monday, Charles told reporters that he and a team of officials from the THA met with Imbert last Friday. “May I advise that a meeting did take place on Friday, prior to the announcement of the budget. The Finance Secretary along with myself and our team met with the Finance Minister and his team in Port of Spain and we did have some preliminary discussions about the budget and so we are to meet again so as we can fine tune some of our request in respect of certain sectors of Tobago,” he said.
Asked about his expectations, Charles said:
“The history, the pattern has always been that what Tobago is given is in relation to the DRC (Dispute Resolution Commission) formula and what is available to be given.”
He said he was hopeful, though, that Tobago will be treated fairly.
“I am hoping that whatever conversations that we have, meaning the Minister and myself, and whatever we agree on, effectively finds its way into the (national) budget presentation. What I can say is that some emphasis will be placed on the tourism sector,” he said.
Charles said the issue of the proposed Sandals project for the Buccoo Estate was discussed at last Friday’s meeting.
“We did have a general conversation about Sandals and that is all I would say at this time on that,” he said.
In June, THA Finance Secretary Joel Jack delivered a $5 billion THA budget estimate to central government for consideration in the national budget. The national budget will be presented in the House of Representatives by Imbert at 1.30 pm on October 2.