Don’t disadvantage the poor and middle class.
That was the Opposition’s appeal to Government yesterday on the eve of today’s 2017 budget delivery.
The Tobago House of Assembly (THA) has presented a $5.6 billion budget estimate for the fiscal year 2014/2015. Under the theme, “Keeping Faith with the People’s Mandate, Protecting Tobago’s Heritage”, the presentation included overall recurrent estimates of $3.13 billion, an increase of $163.86 million over the fiscal 2014 request to the Central Government and $1.31 billion over last year’s revised estimates.
Finance Secretary Joel Jack, who presented his second THA budget yesterday at the assembly, said the package included:
• Personnel expenditure—$848.74 million.
• Goods and services—$1.07 billion.
• Minor equipment purchases—$102.39 million.
• Transfers and subsidies—$1,11 billion.
He also noted that 2015 estimates for development programmes totalled $2.55 billion, an increase of $638.87 million over the 2013/2014 request. They included:
• Pre-investment—$25 million.
• Productive sectors—$6.35 million.
• Economic infrastructure—$884.27 million.
• Social infrastructure—$1.15 billion.
• Multi-sectoral and other services $481.73 million.
Jack said: “One noticeable difference in our development estimate for fiscal 2015 is the sizeable increase in the request for pre-investment studies. “This year’s budget estimates will reflect a provision of $25 million, an increase of $24 million from last year’s total to facilitate pre-investment studies for new projects and programmes. “These studies will cater for the following projects: Feasibility for port location, marine development in Tobago, wastewater treatment for southwest Tobago, downstream options for the Studley Park Quarry and surveys for coastal protection options.” Jack said the Development Programme Estimates for 2014/2015 would cater for a massive improvement in physical infrastructure on the island.
• Milford Coastal Protection Programme: $18 million.
• To build sea defence walls: $32 million.
• Major improvement work on secondary roads: $53 million.
• Windward Road: $15 million.
• Road Resurfacing Programme: $35 million.
• Plymouth/Arnos Vale Road: $11 million.
• Milford Road upgrade: $20 million.
Highlights of overall proposed expenditure estimates:
• $463.1 million for transfers to Tobago Regional Health Authority.
• $330 million for continued support of the Airlift Committee.
• $54.1 million for CEPEP.
• $50 million for continued support for School Feeding Programme.
• $20.1 million support for the Information Technology Centre.
• $16.5 million for continued assistance to small properties in the tourism industry.
• $12.1 million to support Tobago tourism festivals.
• $11.4 million funding for T&T Hospitality and Tourism Institute.
Distribution by division:
• Assembly Legislature: $23.80 million’
• Office of the Chief Secretary: $217.89 million.
• Finance and Enterprise Development: $233.26 million.
• Tourism and Transportation: $275.08 million.
• Education, Youth Affairs and Sport: $527.68 million.
• Community Development and Culture: $160.78 million.
• Infrastructure and Public Utilities: $503.43 million.
• Agriculture, Marine Affairs, Marketing and the Environment: $272.87 million.
• Health and Social Services: $846.42 million.
• Settlements and Labour: $39.58 million.
• Planning and Development: $35.51 million.