Contractors have been invited submit outstanding invoices of monies owed to them by the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) with the hope that payments would be made before the start of the new financial year on October 1.
Well-placed sources have noted a cash flow problem being experienced by the Assembly, however, since its allocations from the central government were being made on a monthly basis rather than quarterly.
In a telephone interview on Saturday, President of the Trinidad and Tobago Contractors Association (TTCA) Ramlogan Roopnarine-Singh confirmed that Tobago contractors continue to be owed hefty sums of monies for provision of goods and services to the THA.
“There are still people who are being owed but what is happening I know for a fact that the THA, all the Divisions, have asked the contractors to submit all outstanding invoices because the (fiscal) year end is coming, and they should be paid soon. That is what you are hearing… I know that they are asking for invoices, all the outstanding invoices.
“If they are asking for all the outstanding invoices and the year end is coming, it is an assumption that they would be paying out all the outstanding debts. If they had no intention to pay out the outstanding debts, why would you ask for all these invoices… it is my hope that they should be paying out all these monies,” said Roopnarine-Singh.
The matter of outstanding payments to contractors by the THA was raised last week by businessman and former head of the Tobago Chamber of Commerce, Demi-John Cruickshank, who called on the Assembly to pay businesses in a timely manner.
“The THA would have made some promises to the business community, especially when this Chief Secretary (Kelvin Charles) came into office, he would have said ‘the days for late payment is a thing of the past.’ That has not come to fruition.
“You still have those problems and the people in the Executive Council have to understand that if a businessman is not paid on time, there are serious repercussions. You have an uncaring public sector and it is very, very frightening. We have to clean up our act,” Cruickshank told Newsday Tobago
Cruickshank also called for more action and less talk by the THA Assembly and central government in kickstarting Tobago’s economy in an interview last Wednesday, noting that with Government three years in office, planned projects were yet to materialise for Tobago.
“They need to accelerate the sod-turning of the Sandals project to give some confidence to the people. From what we were told, they were looking at a two-year window to build and open. The government has two years again in office, what we need is for the government to say, ‘listen we are ready to sign these things, we have gone through the contract.’
“We need to stop the talking and start the action.
“We (economy) are down significantly in Tobago… the promise of the new airport terminal, the promise of the Sandal project, the promise of all these projects by the central government, and by extension the Tobago House of Assembly, have not borne any fruit as yet,” he said.