THA Minority Leader Kelvon Morris says, as far as he is aware, Finance Minister Colm Imbert did write to Chief Secretary Farley Augustine outlining the reasons for the shortfall in parliamentary disbursements over the past few years.
While moving a motion calling on the House to support the re-prioritised agenda of the THA for fiscal 2024 in the Assembly Legislature, Scarborough, on Thursday, Augustine announced his administration’s intention to take legal action to get some $166.4 million which he claims the government owes the THA in approved parliamentary allocations for 2017-2022.
He said his administration had spoken to Imbert on several occasions about the issue, to no avail. Augustine said the time for talk was over.
But in a WhatsApp message on Friday, Morris told Newsday, “It is my information that by letter dated January 16, 2023, the minister did write to the Honourable Chief Secretary communicating the reasons for the shortfall in the disbursements for the period 2017-2022.”
The Darrel Spring/Whim assemblyman, who gave the Minority bench’s reply to the motion, added, “Interestingly, just yesterday (Thursday), I presented a scoreboard of the re-prioritised projects of 2022, where of the 76 projects identified by the Farley-led administration, only 20 of those projects were either started or completed, which equates to a failed performance grade of 25 per cent.”
He described as a “smokescreen” the THA decision to take legal action against the government for the shortfall in allocations.
“The actions of the Chief Secretary is but a smokescreen to deflect and distract from his administrations inability to deliver on the promise they’ve made to Tobagonians.
“Consequently what must be noted quite forcefully is the fact that over the past 24 months, the Chief Secretary and his administration have had available to them almost $5 billion, yet during that same period, Tobago’s economy has declined from a growth of four per cent in 2021 to a two per cent in 2022.”