THE Tobago House of Assembly (THA) administration is chasing a "pie-in-the-sky" with its $4.5 billion budget request, which simply won’t be granted by Finance Minister Colm Imbert, said Couva North MP Ramona Ramdial Opposition spokesman on Tobago.
On Monday, THA finance secretary Joel Jack read a budget of $211 million in revenues and $4.5 billion in expenditure, the latter to be sought from national Government. Ramdial said the Government had offered conflicting accounts as to whether tourism or agriculture would be the main driver of economic diversification in Tobago.
Further, she was concerned that much of the proposed new agricultural thrust seemed geared towards supplying food items to the proposed Sandals Hotel but not to feeding the local population.
Ramdial also warned against an over-reliance of revenues from Sandals, saying it would take at least two years to built, more time to operationalise and an even longer time to enjoy its tax-breaks before ultimately contributing to the Treasury.
Ramdial hit the Government for messing up the inter-island sea-bridge and then not helping.
Tobago businesses which had suffered, such as by a loss of domestic tourists.
She said businesses had implored the Government for a bailout and for help approaching private banks to request flexible re-payment plans for their loans.