Finance Secretary Joel Jack has identified 12 areas for attention in fiscal 2019 based on Government’s allocation to the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) in the national budget but gave no details of projects.
Jack, at last Thursday’s sitting of the Assembly Legislature on Jerningham Street, Scarborough, Street Jack, listed areas for attention as he moved a motion for the House to accept Executive Council measures to manage Tobago’s affairs for fiscal 2019.
He cited broad priority areas as economic expansion and diversification, fostering innovation and creativity, tourism sector development, monetising cultural resources, stimulating the agricultural sector, investment in physical infrastructure, education and human capital development, increase provision of housing opportunities, improving healthcare, investing in sport and youth, community empowerment and public sector modernisation.
He said the motion was to sensitise Tobagonians to the need for adjustments to fiscal priorities given the gap in funding between what was requested by the THA and what was received from central government.
He reminded that THA has requested $4.7 billion but receiving
$2.2 billion. He said another $1.1 million was allocated for projects in Tobago, in keeping with their statutory obligations under the 6th schedule of the THA Act #40 of 1996.
He said that despite the reduced funding, however, the THA remains committed to ensuring that Tobago’s developmental momentum was sustained, and that all Divisions have been mandated to review their finances and identify their outstanding payables to help minismise the Assembly’s debt.
Jack noted a recent post-budget retreat by Executive Council members and which included Administrators, senior management and technical staff of various Divisions, to review implications of budgetary adjustments, identify priority areas and “devise potent strategies and initiatives to improve the efficiencies throughout the Assembly by optimising existing resources.”
He said specific plans for expenditure control, key development programmes and projects identification were among issues discussed at the retreat, but again gave no details.
He gave no details but said high priority were given to ongoing projects that are nearing completion and those from which there was prior approval and commitments and projects for which tender have already been invited or received.
He added that priority was also given to projects in keeping with the Assembly’s mandate of employment generation, economic diversification and the preservation of the environment, projects that were at an advanced stage of planning, and capital projects that were sustainable in the short term and were revenue generating.
He said implementation of these projects were intended to achieve sustainable and inclusive growth for Tobago and to enhance the quality of life of all Tobagonians.