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Saturday 19 October 2019
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Tobago

Dumas joins call for THA audit

Reginald Dumas
Reginald Dumas

Retired head of the public service Reginald Dumas has called for an audit of the Tobago House of Assembly (THA).

He made the call in response to Tobago's $2.283 billion allocation in the 2020 budget.

Dumas said he has not heard about the assembly's plans for reviving the island's economy.

"What plans do the THA have for the turning around of the economy of Tobago?" he asked. "I am not hearing anything from the THA. And I would also urge that there be a value-for-money audit of the THA, because over the years the Auditor General has been unable to accept what has been put before him as representing the accounts of the THA. These are public funds."

Commenting on measures in the budget, Dumas said he was very pleased daily-paid public servants, with an appropriate minimum length of service, will now be eligible for the minimum public service pension of $3,500.

He also applauded Finance Minister Colm Imbert's plan to review public service pensions with a view to indexing them at an appropriate level. Imbert said the review will be completed in fiscal 2020.

Dumas believes the review is necessary.

"I am one of those public servants who do not get an old-age pension. And I don't want to tell you what my pension is, I am too embarrassed."

Dumas said while a review of pensions "might be coming too late for me at my age," it should benefit younger people.

"I don't know what the pensions are going to be indexed to, the cost of living. But it is a fact that people in my position are having a fairly hard time, when we see the parliamentarians happily raising their pensions to levels we can't dream about, whereas we remain virtual paupers."

Dumas also welcomed the introduction of homeless shelters for women exposed to domestic abuse and other conflict.

"I think this was an excellent thing because there are too many of these cases throughout the country. It has been going on for too long and I hope that it can come to pass fairly quickly and be properly managed."

The Government's proposed ban on plastic bottles also came in for high praise.

"Our environment is increasingly a mess – people throwing things all over the place. To a large extent, this is what caused the flooding in downtown Scarborough, because people were just dumping things in the river and water cannot flow out."

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