Tobago has been given a budget allocation of 2 billion 585 million dollars by government to manage the islands affairs over the next fiscal year.
The parliament was told this money is a 64.2 million increase in the allocation for the Tobago House of Assembly when compared to last year.
The THA had requested $4.54 billion from the central government.
Of the $2.585 billion, $18M will be for URP and $9.2M for CEPEP.
However, THA Chief Secretary Farley Augustine said he was frustrated over the lackluster allocation.
In a GML interview, he said the 4.35 per cent allocation in the Budget still falls far below the recommended range proposed by the Dispute Resolution Commission and agreed upon by Parliament in 2001.
He said, “We could have all stayed at home, turned off our televisions and practically predicted what the THA would be allocated. It does not even inch close to the middle percentile of the range recommended by the Dispute Resolution Commission and agreed to by Parliament in 2001.”
The THA is also expected to receive its full allocation for fiscal year 2023. Additionally, an extra $678.5 million has been allocated to various ministries and state agencies to execute major projects in Tobago, exceeding the budgetary allocation to the THA.
Augustine told the media house about the lack of transparency regarding funds allocated to Tobago through Central Government ministries and agencies.
“We continue to hear about the millions to be spent by other ministries in Tobago on the six scheduled items, but we never get accountability for if and how those monies are really spent in Tobago. This lack of transparency exacerbates the challenge of ensuring effective utilisation of funds for the island’s development,’’ Augustine said.
Despite not having responsibility for several key security items, Augustine noted that the THA is consistently asked to deviate from its legal mandate and assist the security forces on a daily basis.
He lamented that this is a strain on resources that further limits the THA’s ability to allocate funds towards its own development objectives.
He said the THA has been left with a limited budget of $260 million for its development programme in 2024.
He said, “Evidently, the THA’s limited allocation will not be sufficient to meet the growing needs of the island.”