Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : June 13th 2013 Contents BG8 | NEWS
BUSINESS GUARDIAN www.guardian.co.tt JUNE 2013 • WEEK TWO
Tobago will be asking for a fair share of the
national budget when the Tobago House of
Assembly (THA), according to its new Finance
Secretary, who presents his 2013/2014 budget
on June 24.
Assemblyman Joel Jack told the Business
Guardian the projected budget will be in keep-
ing with the developmental plans of the THA,
which are aligned to the second Comprehensive
Economic Development Plan (CEDP 2), which
outlines the Assembly s goals for the 2013-
Jack told Business Guardian, "The 2013
budget will focus on economic diversification,
human capital development, job creation, social
support and infrastructure and the continued
growth of the tourism sector. Economic diver-
sification is a priority because this is how
Tobago will equip itself to adjust to rapid
changes in the national and international econ-
omy and produce goods and services that are
"The THA will partner with the private sec-
tor and promote investment either in new
sectors or in innovative activities. This is how
we plan to grow sustainable employment and
generate income as we seek to make the econ-
omy of Tobago more sustainable."
The Secretary of Finance, who presents his
first budget since he assumed office after the
PNM s victory at January s polls, said he is
optimistic Tobago will get the money from
the central Government.
"We do not expect any difficulty in meeting
the projected budget figure as we fully expect
that the Government will honour the Prime
Minister s promise that Tobago should have
a higher allocation of the national budget than
it enjoys currently."
At the formal launch of the Tobago Organ-
isation of the People s campaign for the January
21 THA election, the Prime Minister had prom-
ised the national budgetary allocation for Toba-
go would be increased from the existing level
of between four per cent and six per cent to
between 6.9 per cent and eight per cent.
According to the 2013 budget delivered by
the Minister of Finance, Larry Howai, on Octo-
ber 1, 2012, the budgetary allocation for the
THA for the fiscal year 2013 is $2.356 billion,
of which $2.006 billion was for recurrent
expenditure and $350 million for capital expen-
The Finance Secretary said of the $1.7 billion
requested in 2012/2013 to drive the develop-
ment programme in Tobago, the THA only
received close to $350 million or just above
20 per cent of that requested.
Jack said this was particularly disappointing
and deleterious to Tobago because it is the
development programme that drives the eco-
nomic activity on the sister isle.
"The completion of several outstanding
capital projects is high on the agenda and this
can be achieved provided that the THA receives
the required allocation in the 2013-14 budgets,"
The Finance Secretary said when one looked
at the overall management of the resources
the Assembly received over the last 12 years,
one could conclude that the island had done
well to grow physical infrastructure, maintain
a high level of health and social services, create
jobs and enhance the quality and availability
of education from early childhood to tertiary
"Don t take my word for it. I recall the
Moody s report, which shows clearly that we
have managed our affairs well. We were able
to achieve many things, including a major
improvement in our infrastructure and housing
stock, funding these improvements from cash
balances, and despite not having the ability
to borrow, like organisations such as Udecott
and the HDC," Jack told the Business Guardian.
In 2012 Tobago became the first sub-sov-
ereign Caribbean territory to seek a financial
rating from Moody s, the renowned global
credit rating agency. Moody s then assigned
issuer ratings of Baa 1 (global scale, local cur-
rency) to the THA. It also indicated the outlook
on the ratings is stable.
Jack believes the Tobago economy is on a
solid footing judging also from the way in
which Tobago was able to weather the fallout
from the 2008 Global Financial Crisis and the
continued financial crisis in the Eurozone, and
the impact this had on tourism.
He explained that the 2013-14 THA budget
exercise is being supported by extensive con-
sultations with youth, business, civic, non-
governmental organisations and community-
"Notwithstanding the existence of the
visionary framework of the CEDP 2, we see
it as important to ensure that our vision and
its implementation is aligned to that of civil
society and the private sector, our partners in
Jack said he will consider budgeting addi-
tional funds for infrastructure projects for the
windward side of the island to boost growth
trends in the tourism sector. He said Tobago
at present offers two different types of tourism
products, the more resort-type of product on
the western part of the island and eco-tourism
found mainly on the windward side of the
"The additional funds," he said, "will be for
investment in productive capacity, which will
redound to the long-term economic benefit
of the people of Tobago."
As part of the drive for economic diversi-
fication, Jack told the Business Guardian the
Cove Industrial Eco Park will play a key role
in terms of getting Tobago involved in light
manufacturing. He said that within the next
three months, the estate will welcome two
new tenants, a metal fabrication company and
a furniture manufacturer.
The Finance Secretary said the landing of
natural gas at the Cove estate creates oppor-
tunity for the further development of light
industrial manufacturing on the island.
THA's Joel Jack seeks
8% of national budget
Jack is the first to present a budget for
Tobago in the last decade other than Dr
Anselm London, whom he replaced
following the January 21 THA election.
Jack is a graduate of St Georges
University in Grenada, where between
1999 and 2003, he completed a degree in
business administration and accounting.
Before his appointment as Secretary of
Finance, he held the positions of
programme coordinator, financial literacy
secretariat and acting director of
enterprise development, Finance and
Enterprise Development Division.
Jack is the representative for the
electoral district of Bacolet/Mt St George.
Joel Jack, Secretary of Finance, Tobago House of Assembly,
left, and Larry Howai, Minister of Finance and the Economy
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