Imbert: Trinidad got greater cut in budget allocation compared to Tobago

Finance Minister Colm Imbert - File photo by Ayanna Kinsale
Finance Minister Colm Imbert - File photo by Ayanna Kinsale

FINANCE Minister Colm Imbert says while Tobago received a reduced allocation from 2017 to 2021, it was far less of a reduction compared to Trinidad.

Speaking at a political meeting in Bournes Road, St James on Thursday night Imbert said the accusation that the central government starved the Tobago House of Assembly of funds between 2017 to 2021 was not true.

On Monday Chief Secretary of the THA Farley Augustine presented a budget of $4.54 billion to run the island's affairs for fiscal 2023-2024.

In his presentation, Farley said by law, the central government should give THA 6.9 per cent of the national budget. This, he said was detailed in the Dispute Resolution Commission.

Farley said: “The reality is that all we’re asking for is $6.90 out of every $100 spent in the country. The DRC (Dispute Resolution Committee) has already established that that is within the limit. The DRC report is 22 years old this year and we have never even gotten to the midpoint; not even $5 we’ve gotten. So it would be a dream come through for all Tobagonians because governments preceding me made similar requests.”

Imbert said the reduced allocation was not an attack on the THA adding that while Trinidad received large reductions over the years, the THA only received a fraction of that. He joked that now he may have to re-adjust that.

Imbert said the country went through some difficult times from 2016 to last year, beginning with the collapse of oil from US $100 a barrel to $25 which ended with the pandemic. He said last year was the best in seven years.

“The revenue for Trinidad and Tobago in 2016 cut by 25 per cent and we had to scramble and we had to make cuts everywhere. We had to reduce spending down to $50 billion. You know how much THA get cut by? By five per cent.”

He added that the following year while revenue was expected to be $47 billion it was reduced to $36 billion with THA getting a cut of two per cent while the country had a cut of 24 per cent. In 2018 while the country got a 6 per cent cut, the THA received .8 per cent.

“We treated Tobago much better than how we treated the rest of the country. Those are the facts. It appears that the young man (Farley) is a stranger to the truth” he said adding that the other years were the same.

Last year, the THA asked for $3.97 billion but received $2.122 billion. Imbert said the allocation was the highest ever in the last six years. He said that a PNM-led THA in 2017 was allocated $1.9 billion and maintained that amount until 2020 when it got $2 billion. The $1.9 billion allotment was returned in 2021.

“While Trinidad and I am kind of ashamed to say this, while we had to cut Trinidad's allocation of 60 billion down to $50 (billion), we only took a few percentage points out of Tobago every single year. That is why I am very unhappy at the fact that this young man is so much a stranger to the truth.”


"Imbert: Trinidad got greater cut in budget allocation compared to Tobago"

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