Jack predicts 14% blow to Tobago economy

LAST DIP: People flocked to Store Bay on August 16 ahead of the Government's closure of all beaches and rivers to stop the spread of covid19. PHOTO BY DAVID REID -
LAST DIP: People flocked to Store Bay on August 16 ahead of the Government's closure of all beaches and rivers to stop the spread of covid19. PHOTO BY DAVID REID -

Tobago is projected to experience a fiscal decline of approximately 14 per cent by year's end, owing to the continuing negative effect of the covid19 pandemic.

Secretary for Finance and the Economy Joel Jack made the revelation on Wednesday at the post-executive council media conference at the Victor E Bruce Financial Complex, Scarborough.

Saying the division is monitoring the impact of the pandemic on Tobago’s economy, Jack said the projected slump in GDP (Gross Domestic Product) is being driven largely by declines in the tourism, manufacturing and financial-services sectors.

He said the division also anticipates increases in inflation owing to supply-chain disruptions as well as increased unemployment in the private sector.

“Fortunately, our inflation and unemployment numbers over the past few years have been very low and we anticipate very minimal increases in this regard,” Jack said.

Noting the UK and Barbados have projected economic declines of 20 and ten per cent, respectively, by the end of 2020, Jack said: “In TT, where the initial estimates suggest a decline of approximately ten per cent, we – in the Tobago context – our projections are for a decline of approximately 14 per cent in 2020.”

He pointed out that this came on the heels of a projected increase in economic activity for fiscal 2019.

Jack and Chief Secretary Ancil Dennis are expected to lead a THA delegation to Trinidad for talks with Finance Minister Colm Imbert ahead of the October 5 budget.

Before the last budget, the THA requested an allocation of $4.72 billion but received $2.283 billion from central government.

In the THA’s budget in June, it requested $4.71 billion.

Jack is optimistic that notwithstanding the country’s current economic challenges, Tobago will receive an allocation to continue its development agenda.

“We also expect an allocation that will be in keeping with the resolutions of the Dispute Resolution Commission (DRC)."

The DRC has established a band of approximately 4.03-6.9 per cent of the national budget that the assembly is entitled to in accordance with the THA Act.

Jack is hoping the allocation will contain measures to mitigate the continuing effects of covid19, and support for the revitalisation of Tobago’s tourism industry.

“This industry has been particularly adversely impacted by the covid19 pandemic.”

He also wants a focus on Tobago’s economic diversification thrust, particularly financial and technical assistance to small and medium enterprises as well as support for the agricultural sector “as we seek to increase output and enhance the island’s food security.”

Also on the THA’s wish list, Jack said, is support for the acceleration of the housing programme and Tobago’s digital infrastructure.

Jack is also hoping to see an upgrade to the island’s health infrastructure and social safety net, especially for those adversely affected by the pandemic.


"Jack predicts 14% blow to Tobago economy"

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