ALTHOUGH no date has been confirmed for the presentation of Tobago's annual budget statement, the THA fiscal package preparations for 2021 is moving into the consultation phase.
So said Deputy Chief Secretary and Secretary of Division of Finance and the Economy Joel Jack as he addressed Wednesday’s post-Executive Council media briefing at the Scarborough library. Jack said the consultation would engage interest groups and the wider Tobago public.
“These interest groups would cover various sections of the Tobago population, including the business community, youth, agriculture and agro-processors, trade unions and other interest groups, to name a few.
“These consultations would take various forms including pre-budget survey, focus meeting sessions and the use of social media. The division would also provide an avenue for the wider Tobago public and the wider national public to submit their ideas and suggestions to inform policy.”
He said this year's budget and the budget process would focus primarily on strategies, initiatives and other measures to stimulate the Tobago economy in light of the challenges related to the covid19 pandemic.
“It (covid19) has limited our interface and interactions with our stakeholders...instead of having face-to-face consultations with our stakeholders, we are now doing it virtually..
“We’ll be using the social media platform in addition to our usual pre-budget surveys to ensure that we solicit the views, ideas and recommendations from the wider Tobago public for them to really inform assembly policy and to inform the budget moving forward,” he said, adding that the division has in train a virtual town hall meeting, to be launched next week, when people would be invited to participate and submit their recommendations in a number of areas.
On March 23, Jack said he had officially issued the Call Circular 2020 document to all divisions under the assembly. The THA Act says the secretary for finance must annually submit to the THA for its approval draft estimates of revenue and expenditure for all functions of the assembly for the next financial year. This circular gives the divisions instructions for preparating draft estimates of revenue and expenditure for the accounting year.
Jack noted that the Finance Division is responsible for compiling the draft estimates. Divisions must make their submissions to the Division of Finance and the Economy Budget Section, and the Department of Planning of the Office of the Chief Secretary by April 20.