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$17b spent over 12 years

THA Chief London:

By Elizabeth Williams Tobago Bureau

Approximately $17 billion has been spent over the past 12 years by the Tobago House of Assembly (THA), under Chief Secretary Orville London.

This was revealed yesterday by London, leader of the Tobago Council of the People's National Movement (PNM).

London said while the figure is in fact $17 billion, it must be placed in context as funding has to be separated under "recurrent" and "development".

Under "recurrent" more than $13 billion was spent, while in terms of "development" less than $4 billion was spent.

"And it's that $13 billion that pays wages and salaries, provides goods and services, and places the THA in a position where it can provide employment to close to 60 per cent of the working population of Tobago," said London in the build-up to the THA election, scheduled for January 21.

And while the Tobago Organisation of the People (TOP) has claimed the PNM-led THA administration has squandered taxpayers money, especially with respect to THA mega projects including both incomplete Shaw Park Cultural Complex and Scarborough Library, London said it is unfair to judge the THA's spending of money in this way.

"It is sometimes unfair when you take monies accumulated over the period of time and then try to judge at a particular point in time as to whether you have done well or not," he said.

London said the $17 billion over the past 12 years was spent wisely in housing, infrastructure and other areas, and the benefits are obvious to the people of Tobago. However, he did admit some things could have been done differently.

"Well, I think one of the things I could have done differently is to communicate the success of the administration a little bit more effectively," he said.

He dismissed the existence of any poll placing the TOP in front of the PNM for the upcoming election and disclosed that the PNM's manifesto is at the printers and will be available within two weeks.

And the TOP, a member of the ruling People's Partnership Government, will hold its official launch of candidates for next month's election on Sunday at Market Square in Scarborough.

Attending will be Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar and other members of her People's Partnership cabinet.

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