THE INNOVATIVE Democratic Alliance (IDA) has described as “grossly unsatisfactory and inadequate” the $260 million allocated for Tobago’s development programme in the 2024 national budget.
In a statement on Tuesday, the party said, “A budgetary allocation that falls closer to the lower end of the range stipulated by the DRC (Dispute Resolution Commission) with a meagre amount of $260 million for capital development is grossly unsatisfactory and inadequate to create the platform for the development of Tobago and its people, especially at this critical juncture.”
It also believes the budget, Building Capacity for Diversification and Growth, “is nothing more than an exercise in lip service to the people of Tobago and a great disservice to the national community.”
The party said it is resolute in its position that a Tobago given a real opportunity to be developed will not just be of benefit to Tobago but to the whole country.
The IDA, led by Dr Denise Tsoiafatt Angus, urged the leaders to “go beyond governance by bacchanal, rhetoric and ‘ole talk’ and begin to govern in a mature and collaborative way that is in the best interest of the people and the country’s development.”
Tobago got an allocation of $2.58 billion, some $64.2 million more than it received in fiscal 2023. Of that allocation, $2.298 billion has been set aside for recurrent expenditure and $260 million for its development programme.
The IDA said it does not believe the 2024 budget reflects the position that Tobago is seen as an equal partner in the national development and diversification agenda.
“Instead, what was reinforced is the PNM-led central government’s perspective that Tobago is nothing more than a dependent ward of 60,000 persons that is an expense to the Trinidad economy,” the party said in a statement on Tuesday.