Tobago House of Assembly (THA) Minority Leader Kelvon Morris claims Chief Secretary Farley Augustine misinformed Tobagonians when he said Tobago had no money.
Launching the debate on the THA’s draft 2022/2023 budget estimate yesterday in the Assembly Hall in Tobago, Morris said emphatically that the current THA administration ‘has more maize to feed more people’ and “played with more money” than the previous administration.
Congratulating Augustine on his first budget presentation last week on Thursday, Morris said that 21 years ago Orville London presented his first budget as Chief Secretary and Finance Secretary, after 20 consecutive years of governance by the Democratic Action Congress and the National Alliance for Reconstruction.
However, the difference between the People’s Democratic Patriots (PDP) first six months in office and the London era was the approach, he claimed.
“The hallmark of Mr. London’s undefeated success was his humility, inclusiveness, diplomacy and collaboration. Conversely, this PDP administration has adopted a posture of arrogance towards the electorate, victimization against political opponents and confrontation with the central government, which, I dare say, is counterproductive for the successful implementation of the many ambitious plans outlined in this budget presentation. ,” he said.
Morris said Augustine’s 2023 budget presentation, while filled with fanciful plans to “wow” the unsuspecting listener, was nothing short of gasp and blast, pregnant with misinformation, deception, deception, dishonesty, ingenuity and outright hypocrisy.
The THA has sufficient resources
Morris noted that for the 2022 financial year, the THA requested a total of $4.727 billion from the central government and received $2.365 billion.
He said that overall, the budget allocation to the THA for fiscal year 2022 was about $223 million, or 10.5% more than the allocation for fiscal year 2021.
“So what that means is this administration has more corn to feed more poultry and is playing with more money than the previous administration had in 2021,” Morris said.
He said in his midterm budget presentation that Finance Minister Colm Imbert had allocated an additional $60 million, bringing the total allocation to the THA for this year to $2.425 billion.
He said a review of the latest monthly THA expenditures for March showed THA releases of $1.157 billion and expenditure of $1.027 billion.
“This translates to an initial balance, in March, of $129.953 million and together provides the THA with a remaining fund flow of over $1.338 billion to get us through the next three months. This means that the THA has enough resources to fulfill its current obligations and this appearance, misrepresentation, misinformation that the THA has no money is a clear example of the misinformation and dishonesty of this administration said Morris.
He said a closer look at the recurring expense ratio suggested a large balance at the end of this fiscal year and as such there was no measurable explanation for withholding payments to suppliers of goods and services. services that have verifiable and legitimate invoices.
“You owe the people, pay the people. You have the money,” he insisted.
He said that while the PDP administration was telling people that the PNM had done nothing for the people of Tobago, now that they are in government and realize how difficult it is to do new things, the party now borrows the ideas of the PNM.
He said some of the plans detailed in Augustine’s budget presentation were in the PNM’s 2021 manifesto.
Promises never fulfilled
In response, THA Health Secretary Dr Faith B Yisrael said she was a little “tiny” worried after listening to the minority leader.
She said it was because the PDP had been in power since December 2021, but the PNM had controlled the HAT since 2001.
“So I’m wondering if he recognizes that when we talk about our young people not doing well in school and low tourist numbers, and not mapping tourist attractions and all the things you’ve been describing, it seems so nice and simple and easy to do, do you realize that until December, the organization that you represent so proudly here, that you campaigned for, had the opportunity to do everything, one of those things that you come from to spend time talking,” she said.