IDA: Audit Farley’s THA to restore confidence

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Innovative Democratic Patriots PRO Kaye Trotman. –

THE Innovative Democratic Alliance (IDA) has called on the Auditor General to conduct an immediate review of the Tobago House of Assembly’s (THA’s) spending during fiscal 2023-2024.

The party also wants Chief Secretary Farley Augustine to provide a detailed account of the $2.585 billion allocation the THA got from central government in the October 2, 2023 national budget.

“We hope that in this upcoming budget we will see just that,” IDA’s public relations officer Kaye Trotman said at a news conference at the party’s head office, Wilson Road, Scarborough, on June 4.

“The people of Tobago have a right to know where every dollar is going and how it is contributing to the development and betterment of the island.

“Deflecting from his responsibility and pointing fingers will not solve the problem that Tobago currently faces. We need clear, transparent reporting.”

Of the THA’s $2.58 billion allocation, $2.298 billion was allocated for recurrent expenditure, $260 million for the island’s development programme and $18 million for the Unemployment Relief Programme. The sum represented an increase of $64.2 million over fiscal 2023.

Trotman said under the Augustine-led administration, Tobagonians do not have a clear sense of how the allocation is being spent.

“The IDA firmly believes that transparency and accountability are the key pillars of good governance. The people of Tobago deserve to know how their money is being spent and they deserve leaders who will fight for their financial rights. And it is simply unacceptable for any administration to operate without providing clear, detailed account of its expenditure.”

Trotman said the IDA wants the Auditor General to review the THA’s spend to ensure transparency and prevent any potential malpractices.

“We must avoid at all costs any situation that is akin to the alleged cooking of the books…An early and thorough audit will provide the necessary oversight to restore confidence in our financial governance.”

She also noted that Tobago is still owed money from central government.

“The Minister of Finance (Colm Imbert) has acknowledged this debt and it is crucial that these funds be released promptly to meet the needs of the island.

“It is equally important that we scrutinise the current allocation, including that $2.58 billion that was received by the THA to see how it has been utilised, if it truly has been utilised in the best interests of Tobago.”

Trotman said the IDA stands ready to champion the financial rights of Tobagonians and to ensure that every dollar is used effectively for the island’s development.

“We, therefore, demand that central government uphold its financial commitment to Tobago and gives to Tobago those resources it requires for its development.

“This is not a time for egos. This is a time for Trinidad and Tobago to put aside petty differences in the interest of both islands to ensure that Tobago gets all of the resources necessary for allowing it to be able to drive an economy that can contribute meaningfully, not just to Tobago but national development.”