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Monday 22 July 2019
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[UPDATED] TOBAGO STOP BEGGING

Duke slams $4.7b THA budget

THA Minority Leader Watson Duke.
THA Minority Leader Watson Duke.

TOBAGO must stop begging Trinidad for its annual finances and start generating its own.
This was the view of a fired up Tobago House of Assembly (THA) minority leader Watson Duke in response to the Assembly’s $4.72 billion request to Central Government to run its affairs for 2020.

The THA budget which was delivered yesterday by Secretary for Finance and THA deputy Chief Secretary Joel Jack, lacks creativity, is visionless, hopeless and unprofitable, according to Duke. The two-and-a-half-hour presentation was made at the Legislature Chamber in uptown Scarborough.

Duke, leader of the Progressive Democratic Patriots (PDP), hit the PNM-controlled THA for its inability to manage resources so as to generate sufficient revenue. Instead, the THA keeps asking for funds from Central Government to sustain the island’s economy yearly.

UNIMPRESSED: Flanked by fell PDP members Farley Augustine, left, and Faith BYisrael, right, PDP political leader Watson Duke addresses reporters after the reading of the THA budget yesterday.

He said he expected to hear from Jack’s budget, more ways to generate revenue. “It ($4.72 billion) is just too much money for them to spend. For the last 18 years they have grown accustomed to $2.8 billion, (so) to give them 1.9 billion more is too much.

“They should have been more reasonable and say we want this amount but we expect (THA) revenue to be 5 billion. It will make sense to fool us this way.” Duke said he was tired of the THA begging Trinidad for handouts and is ready for Tobago to stimulate its economy so more revenue can be generated.

“We look at the revenue the THA expects to create, thinking that now we have the cassava company, now we have Studley Park (Quarry) up and running by some Sammy and friends, now we have the Capital of Paradise fishing boat, now we have a number of things in Tobago that ought to boost the economy but he (Jack) is saying to us, ‘the revenue to be generated in 2020 is expected to be less than what was generated this year.’”

Duke said he “marvelled” at the fact that “a budget is a statement of hope, where political organisations say to the country, ‘we are ready to lead you like this’, but there was no hope. Notwithstanding all the fancy things he would have said, there was no hope.”

Duke called on Chief Secretary Kelvin Charles to take responsibility for Tobago’s affairs by demanding internal self-governance from Central Government.

“He must act like a man, go down to Trinidad and say to the prime minister, ‘We are ready for our autonomy.’ They can’t even give us an update – Jack just gave us a cheap, unexplained update that it’s somewhere before some committee.”

This story was originally published with the title "Duke: Tobago must stop begging, start generating" and has been adjusted to include additional details. See original post below.


The Tobago House of Assembly (THA) $4.72 billion budget statement lacks creativity, is visionless, hopeless and unprofitable. This was the response of the THA minority opposition after Joel Jack, Secretary for the Division of Finance and the Economy, delivered the two and a half hour presentation at the Legislature Chamber, uptown Scarborough Monday morning.

Watson Duke, leader of the Progressive Democratic Patriots (PDP), said the THA’s inability to manage its resourses to generate sufficient revenue instead of requesting funds from Central Government to sustain the island's economy yearly makes this year’s budget another clueless statement.

Coming from this budget, Duke said, he was expecting to hear of more ways to generate revenue, as $4.72 billion "is just too much money for them to spend. For the last 18 years they have grown accustomed to $2.8 billion, to give them $1.9 billion more is too much. They should have been more reasonable and say we want this amount but we expect (THA) revenue to be $5 billion. It will make sense to fool us this way.”

Duke said he was tired of the THA begging Trinidad for handouts and is ready for Tobago to stimulate its economy so that more revenue can be generated.

“We look at the revenue that it expects to create, thinking that now we have the cassava company, now we have Studley Park (Quarry) up and running by some Sammy and friends, now we have the Capital of Paradise fishing boat, now we have a number of things in Tobago that ought to boost the economy – he is saying to us, 'The revenue generated this year is expected to be less than what was generate this year.'

Duke said he marvelled at the fact that "a budget is a statement of hope, where political organisations say to the country, 'We are ready to lead you like this,' and there was no hope. Notwithstanding all the fancy things he would have said, there was no hope.”

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