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Friday 23 August 2019
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Concerns about THA borrowing

Minority member Farley Augustine
Minority member Farley Augustine

ELECTORAL Representative for Palatuvier/L’Anse Fourmi/ Speyside, Assemblyman Farley Augustine says the Minority Council is concerned about Government’s move to soon grant approval to the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) to raise capital on the local market for among other things, infrastructural development.

Addressing yesterday’s Minority Council media briefing at the Office of the Minority Leader in Scarborough, Augustine said the Minority agrees with the Assembly’s ability to borrow, “it is needed because the financing of our capital development has just not been there”.

This as he was responding to the mid-year budget review presented by Finance Minister Colm Imbert on Monday.

“The Minority Council would have noted quite happily that the minister is indicating that the Tobago House of Assembly in a short time would be allowed to borrow.

“Given the lack of infrastructural development on the island, we see that there is a need for the THA to have access to a lot more capital funding than it has at the moment. And so yes, we agree that there may be a need to borrow to improve on the financial capacity, so that we can in some ways be on par with our brothers and sisters in Trinidad who are enjoying the benefits of new highways and so on,” he said.

But, before long, he dropped a caveat. He believes access to borrowing should have three conditions. “There are three conditionalities that we think should be meted out to the THA before borrowing. The first conditionshould be that the THA should undergo a comprehensive audit.”

The second condition is: “There should be a thorough assessment of the THA’s internal accounting and financial systems, and that assessment should be done because when we look at every Auditor General’s report on the THA since 2000, we have always had adverse opinions from the Auditor General and they’ve always shown up strong weaknesses within the internal accounting systems of the THA and that must be fixed.”

The third conditionality is that it is time for the THA to revisit the CEDP (Comprehensive Economic Development Plan), “because at this time we don’t have a developmental plan for the island,” he said.

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