THE Tobago House of Assembly (THA) had requested $1.7 billion for development in Tobago, Chief Secretary Orville London said yesterday.
The THA was however allocated $350 million for development when Finance Minister Larry Howai presented the 2013 budget yesterday.
London described this as his "major concern" arising out of the budget. He was speaking outside Parliament, Tower D, International Waterfront Centre, Wrightson Road, Port of Spain.
Howai yesterday announced that the budgetary allocation for the THA for fiscal 2013 was $2.356 billion of which $2.006 billion would be for recurrent expenditure and $350 million for capital expenditure. Apart from this issue London said "he was not particularly surprised" by Howai's budget presentation.
"There are some areas of concern but over the years we know despite the fact that we might be hoping for better treatment, we know that we are going to get what is the minimum requirement mandated by the law which is 4.03 per cent of the national budget and that is about what Tobago was allocated," London said.
"My major concern is really in the development area where our request was somewhere in the vicinity of $1.7 billion. What we got was, I think 350 million and it is going to create some serious problems for us. What has been happening over the years is that you do not have the funding to do a lot of the major projects. What you have to do is to pool the funding and do maybe two or three of the major projects and over the years there is obviously a lag," London said.
London said this problem has adversely affected the housing sector in Tobago.
"I think this is most evident in the housing sector. Over the years we have been appealing to various ministers that some of the funding made available to the central government, through loans and bonds and so on for the housing sector. That some of that funding be available to us too, because we have actually been building all our houses in Tobago for cash and basically that creates its own kind of challenges for us," London said.
London said it is time for Tobago to be treated with a "certain degree of autonomy" and be allowed to access lending.