London wants to meet with Howai
...THA allocation not enough
The Tobago House of Assembly (THA) wants a meeting with Finance Minister Larry Howai to discuss Tobago's $3.356 billion allocation in the 2013 budget.
In a release yesterday, Chief Secretary Orville London said the request will be made following the budget debate in both Houses of Parliament, currently under way.
The Assembly was allocated $3.06 billion for recurrent expenditure and $350 million for development in the budget. London noted that the Assembly would have requested a development budget of $1.721 billion, which was about 20 per cent of what it received.
This is the largest allocation ever to Tobago. Last year, the THA received almost $2.2 billion, of which $1.86 billion was for recurrent expenditure and $319 million for capital expenses.
London said he wanted the people of Tobago to put the allocation in context and did not want to get into any argument with the Central government.
London said there was no major project in Tobago for which the THA would have even received 50 per cent and in most cases not even 20 per cent of what was requested.
He said there were certain projects that cannot be done so that all the money would be pooled for use in priority projects.
He said he agreed with Minority Leader Ashworth Jack that the THA did not spend all the money it received.
"Of course we cannot spend all the money because if we spend the money from the previous year it means that major projects would stall in the year after," he said.
He added that according to the THA Act, money that was not utilised in the current year can be utilised for capital projects the next year. "We try to ensure that we do not spend all the money—especially under the recurrent— and that money becomes available to us for capital projects because we know as a matter of fact that based on all that has happened in the past, we know that we are going to be inadequately funded where our major development projects are concerned."
London said it was because of prudent management the THA has reasonable assurance that it would be able to complete the library, cultural complex, build some houses, pay bills, complete community centres, continue work on the roads, do all the planned infrastructural works and construct the Scarborough RC School.
He said he wanted to put Tobago on notice that certain projects have now been jeopardised—among them the aquatic and indoor sporting complex, the Scarborough Market, the Roxborough Administrative Complex and the educational administrative building.