Despite the tough economic times, Tobago House of Assembly Secretary of Finance and the Economy Joel Jack says they are committed to dealing with the “existing mismatch between the demand and supply for public housing in Tobago.”
The THA is actively exploring the prospects for using the Private/Public Partnership “to provide an estimated 300 new homes at the Shirvan Estate”. He expected the development phase to be completed by the end of this calendar year. Works at Courland and Belle Garden will also be expedited to allow people “granted lots at these sites to start construction activity in the quickest possible time.”
On the issue of crime and security, Jack said there is ongoing collaboration between the THA and the T&T Police Service “to maximise our efforts towards fighting crime on the island.” As a result of those discussions, he said over the last year 20 additional police officers were assigned to Tobago to strengthen the force. Construction of the Old Grange Police station is now 56 per cent complete and should be completed by November and the Roxborough Police station will be completed by April 2019, he said.
The THA is also collaborating with the Central Government on the construction of the new terminal building for the ANR Robinson International Airport, which will be constructed at a cost of $500 million.
On the issue of self-government, Jack said he is optimistic the Joint Select Committee of Parliament can complete its work in the shortest possible time and “pave the way for the process to move forward”. He is also hoping that when the bill to give Tobago autonomy is debated, it will move beyond “partisan politics” because “it centres on the development of Tobago and its people.”
Jack also announced enhancement of a number of tourist attractions, including Pigeon Point, where $9.1m will be spent and $8.3m for improvements at Manta Lodge. He also announced an agricultural access road programme of $55m.
In the education sector, among the initiatives to be undertaken is a $20m primary school improvement programme and a $7m Science Research Centre. Millions will also be spent to expand and improve the road network and $15 million will be spent to build sea defence walls in the face of coastal erosion.
Some $70m will be spent on the Unemployment Relief Programme, $54.1m on Cepep, which he said were restructured to allow for greater focus on skills training and revenue generating activities, and $50 million has been allocated for the School Feeding Programme.
Jack said tax and non-tax revenues to be collected is estimated at $211.1m. (RS)
BUDGET BREAKDOWN-RECURRENT EXPENDITURE
Assembly Legislature $26.1m
Office of the Chief Secretary $233.3m
Finance and the Economy $264.4m
Tourism, Culture and Transportation $381.1m
Education, Innovation and Energy $486.6m
Community Development, Enterprise Development and Labour $123.2m
Infrastructure and the Environment $522.3m
Food Production, Forestry and Fisheries $312.5m
Health, Wellness and Family development $756.3m
Settlements, Urban Renewal and Public Utilities $35.4m
Sport and Youth Affairs $97.0m