THE Tobago House of Assembly (THA) has presented a $4.7 billion budget for use in the next fiscal year. THA Deputy Chief Secretary and Secretary of Finance and the Economy, assemblyman Joel Jack announced the figures as he delivered his sixth budget presentation to the Assembly Legislature yesterday, under the theme Re-engineering for Growth and Expansion.
In his two-hour presentation, Jack said the budget numbers were largely influenced by the PNM’s manifesto for the 2017 THA election, the THA’s pre-budget survey, the contributions from various stakeholders in the pre-budget consultations for 2018 and the budgetary submissions of the various divisions.
He said the budget focuses economic expansion and diversification; fostering innovation and creativity; tourism sector development; monetising cultural resources; stimulating the agriculture sector; investment in physical infrastructure, education and human capital development and provision of housing opportunities among others.
“For fiscal 2018, the total budgetary allocation to the Tobago House of Assembly amounted to $2.18 billion ; of which $1.86 billion was allocated for recurrent expenditure and $315.7 million was allocated for development programme expenditure.”
Noting that the overall budgetary allocation in 2018 declined by 6.7 per cent, Jack said the recurrent estimates for 2019 total $3.2 billion.
“Personnel expenditure – $901.2 million, goods and services – $ 1 billion, minor equipment purchases $113.7 million, and transfers and subsidies $1.1 billion. This represents an increase of $40.7 million from last year’s request.”
The Division of Health and Social Services received the largest chunk of the pie, followed by the Division of Infrastructure and Public Utilities.
“Assembly Legislature $26.1 million, Office of the Chief Secretary $233.3 million, Finance and the Economy $264.4 million, Tourism, Culture and Transportation $381.1 million, Education, Innovation and Energy $486.6 million, Community Development, Enterprise Development and Labour $123.2 million, Infrastructure, Quarries and the Environment $522.3 million, Food Production Forestry and Fisheries $312.5 million, Health, Wellness and Family Development $756.3 million, Settlements, Urban Renewal and Public Utilities $35.4 million, and Sport and Youth Affairs $97 million.”
Jack added that to continue the diversification effort and to facilitate development of the local private sector, the estimates for the development programme will continue to provide support in a number of areas.
He said the administration will continue to upgrade and expand the road and other physical infrastructure.
In relation to URP and CEPEP, Jack said that $70 million and $54.1 million respectively will be requested.
“Within recent times, both URP and CEPEP programmes were significantly restructured. In fact, the Executive Council approved a new strategic plan for CEPEP, while URP formulated a new policy framework to guide its operations for the period 2018-2020. Both programmes were restructured to allow a greater focus on skills training to enable employees to graduate from them, as well as to allow a greater focus on revenue-generating activities and support for the agriculture sector.”