Tuesday, June 25, 2013

$4.95 Billion THA Budget

Joel Jack Finance Secretary of THA
Tobago House of Assembly (THA) Finance Secretary Joel Jack yesterday presented a $4.95 billion budget. 
His presentation of the estimates for the 2013/2014 fiscal year lasted
just under three hours and was themed “Responding To The People’s Mandate”.

Jack criticised the People’s Partnership Government for “unprecedented turmoil and poor governance” and admitted that his was an “ambitious programme for housing and settlements”. 

There was no response to his criticisms of the Government as there is no THA Minority Leader.
Previously, former minority leader Ashworth Jack would have responded but the Tobago Organisation of the People (TOP) lost all 12 seats to the People’s National Movement (PNM) in the THA election in January.
Jack spoke of extensive infrastructural projects.

“Among these are $8 million for the construction of sea defence walls and $4 million for coastal zone protection,” he said.

The infrastructure budget also calls for major improvement works on secondary roads ($30 million) and the construction of bridges on Milford Road at a cost of $15 million.

And, in response to concerns expressed by people all over Tobago, the Assembly plans to undertake a $40-million road resurfacing programme; a $45-million programme for upgrading road efficiency (PURE); the rehabilitation and extension of Claude Noel Highway; and an upgrade of Milford Road at a cost of $6 million.

Also included in the infrastructure budget is an allocation of $10 million for the Windward Road Special Development Programme and $43 million for the construction of Roxborough Plaza.

Jack also spoke of delays encountered with the Scarborough Library and Shaw Park Cultural Complex, making firm completion dates unpredictable. 

He said the current budget provides for an allocation of $40 million for the library and $75 million for the Cultural Complex. 

The Division of Infrastructure and Public Utilities is currently operating on the presumption that, with the appropriate funding made available and with on-going contractual issues settled, work on both structures will proceed steadily in the next fiscal year.

Minister of Tobago Development Dr Delmon  Baker congratulated Jack on his presentation, but he said he found it lacked direction for the people of Tobago.

“I looked at the presentation as a whole and thought there was not sufficient direction for the people of Tobago, with regard to the Assembly’s planning going forward,” Baker said.

He added that he was committed to Tobago’s best interest and “to fight for the people of Tobago, and not for an administration”.  

The budget presentation was later adjourned to Thursday, when all secretaries and assistant secretaries will respond. 

2013/2014 Breakdown of Estimates

The following is the breakdown of estimates for the 2013/2014 fiscal year:
• Castara Housing Estate Development—$16.2 million;

• Courland Estate Land Development—$33.0 million;

•  Development of Belle Garden Estate Phase II—$28.0 million;

• Land Development Adelphi Estate—$50 million;

• Special Land Development Programme for Windward Tobago—$18 million;

•  Mt Irvine Housing Development—$22 million;

• Shirvan Road Housing Development—$40 million;  
The 2014 estimates of revenue, both tax and non-tax, are as follows:
• Taxes on Income and Profits—$81.2 million;

•  Taxes on Property—$0.5 million;

• Taxes on Goods and Services—$58.7 million;

• Taxes on International Trade—$2.5 million;

• Other Taxes—$3.0 million;

• Total Tax Revenue—$152.9 million.

• Property Income Taxes—$0.2 million;

• Other Non-tax Revenue—$1.4 million;

• Total Non-Tax Revenue—$1.6 million;

• Total Revenue—$154.6 million


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