Tobago Chamber of Commerce president Demi John Cruikshank is pleased Tobago received additional powers through some of the initiatives announced by Minister of Finance Colm Imbert in the 2018 Budget on Monday.
Speaking at a news conference mere minutes after the Budget, Cruikshank said he was also comforted with Tobago’s allocation.
The Tobago House of Assembly (THA) received $2.1936 billion, representing $1.86 billion for recurrent expenditure, $315.6 million for capital expenditure and $18 million for URP. The island will also receive $1.09 billion via ministries for projects, including the construction of the Old Grange and Roxborough Police Stations, a desalination plant and the expansion of the power generating capacity at Cove.
Cruickshank was happy Tobago will get a larger slice of the national pie this time around. “Tobago House of Assembly would have received a 4.34 per cent of the national Budget, to us, which is an upward figure in terms of what we would have normally received, which is 4.03 of the national budget,” he said.
“We are also pleased that the THA would have gotten some sort of ability to borrow coming into the new fiscal year and that is something that a number of Assemblies in the past would have clamoured for and it will be interesting to see how we now deal with that scenario in terms of borrowing externally, or domestically.”
He said his organisation was also comforted that the Loan Guarantee Programme was put on the front burner, adding the repayment period was extended, which will work in the favour of the business community.
“That is something that the chamber, the division in Tobago, would have clamoured for a long time, that we wanted some sort of clarity in terms of the Loan Guarantee Programme and we are pleased and comforted in the Budget that we would have gotten the ability to put the loan to 15 years from seven years, which we fought for, for a long time,” he said.
He also extended an olive branch to Chief Secretary Kelvin Charles to meet with the Chamber to propel the island’s economy.