CHIEF Secretary and Secretary of Tourism Ancil Dennis said the budget presentation for fiscal 2022 will provide relief and hope for Tobago.
In an interview with Newsday on Monday after Finance Minister Colm Imbert announced a $2.357 billion allocation to the Tobago House of Assembly (THA). The figure represents 4.5 per cent of the national pie – an increase of $223 million from 2021.
"The budget is a good one; it presents relief, it presents hope for a brighter future," Dennis said.
He said some of the measures were necessary to deal with the negative effects of the covid19 pandemic.
"Overall, in the context of the country, the budget is befitting of the times we are in. There were specific measures to bring relief to those experiencing difficulty as a result of the pandemic, and also to increase stimulation of the business sector."
Dennis expressed gratitude for the new $50 million support programme for hoteliers and tourism.
The tourism sector has been almost completely shut down since covid19 reached TT's shores in March 2020.
"I am particularly grateful for the tourism and hospitality support programme...That would be utilised for a specific programme aimed towards bringing relief to tourism sector and other workers affected by the pandemic, also to some of the business persons in that sector."
Dennis, who also holds the THA portfolio for food production, was buoyed by Imbert's $30 million injection to Tobago's agriculture.
"Tobago has the opportunity to improve our agriculture and stimulate our tourism sector.
"The farmland development programme, I am excited about that because we plan to use that funding to place approximately 100 or so farmers on state lands (and provide) the required infrastructure needs such as water, electricity and good roads – that will allow us to increase our food productivity on the island."
Although excited about specific allocations, Dennis lamented that the $264 million for capital expenditure was nowhere near what is required.
"Tobago's capital needs are way beyond that, but we will do what we normally do. We will ensure we make the necessary adjustments to ensure we have finding available to treat with our development."
He noted that Tobago's development will continue beyond the $264 million allocation.
He noted the Government's commitment to construct a mariner in Tobago in 2023.
"That will not come from the coffers of the THA," he said.
The Buccoo/Mt Pleasant electoral representative also cited the plan by private developers for a $500 million Marriott hotel and development project in Rocky Point. That project is set for 2023 and will be completed by 2025.
It is expected to provide 750 jobs during construction and 250 jobs upon completion.
"Tobago will benefit from all those capital investment. Other government ministries and agencies will also spend $788 million, that will not be part of Tobago's expenditure."
He said he is looking forward to Tobagonians getting behind the thrust towards sustainability and taking advantage of the concessions on electric cars to help the island move towards green, serene and sustainable.