THA Deputy Chief Secretary and Secretary of Finance and the Economy Joel Jack is expecting more than the barest minimum to Tobago when the national budget is presented in October.
On Monday, a statement from Finance Minister Colm Imbert said the 2021 national budget will be presented in the House of Representatives on Monday, October 5.
In 2019, the THA requested $4.72 billion but received only $2.283 billion, approximately 4.4 per cent of the $53 billion 2019/2020 budget.
Earlier in June, the Assembly requested a total of $4.71 billion from Central Government for its fiscal 2020/2021 budget. Jack sad the fiscal package requested was crafted against the backdrop of the global health and economic crisis brought about by the covid19 pandemic, which he said has significant implications for the island Tobago.
However, he said the measures outlined in the budget will help to stimulate activity as well as mitigate the negative impact of the covid19 pandemic. He said the overall budgetary request includes funding for Development Programme and Recurrent Expenditure, as well as provisions for CEPEP and URP programmes.
The Recurrent Estimates totalled $3.07 billion and the estimates of expenditure in the Development Programme amounted to $1.5 billion, with an additional $71 million and $43 million towards the Unemployment Relief Programme and CEPEP respectively.
In an interview with Newsday on Wednesday, Jack said: "We expect that the minister as he has normally done, he would give us in excess of the barest 4.03 (per cent) minimum of the national budget which has been his practise since coming into office in 2015. I must thank the honourable Minister of Finance for that, in terms of working with the Tobago House of Assembly to ensure that Tobago’s development is not stymied.”
Additionally, he expects Imbert to consider permitting the Assembly to approach the financial market to borrow to continue accessing what he has termed, the alternative financing mechanism policy.
“In that way, we would be mobilising funding outside of the subvention we receive from Central Government in order to accelerate the island’s development,” Jack said.
Jack said a team led by himself and Chief Secretary Ancil Dennis is expected to meet with Imbert over the next two weeks, when they would discuss in detail the budget submission as well as the Assembly’s recommendation as it relates to funding.