Morris: Chief Sec can’t deny improved allocation

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

THA Minority Leader Kelvon Morris –

THA Minority Leader Kelvon Morris is of the belief that the funds being allocated to the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) should put the island in a better place to manage itself.

Morris spoke during Monday’s minority council media briefing at his Scarborough office.

His statement follows comments by Finance Minister Colm Imbert who during the recent Conversations with the Prime Minister forum in Scarborough said Tobago always benefits under PNM governments – whether or not the party also controls the Tobago House of Assembly (THA).

Imbert told the audience he was baffled by claims that Government was straving the THA of funding simply because the PNM was not in charge of the assembly. He said nothing could be further from the truth.

Imbert said an arrangement was made to give the THA its subvention on a monthly basis instead of quarterly. Imbert quoted from documents to support this position. He told the audience that from 2018-2021, the PNM-led THA received allocations of $2.26 billion, $2.27 billion, $2.34 billion and $2.817 billion respectively.

Imbert said the first year of the Augustine-led THA would have been December 2021-December 2022. He said central government released a total of $2.38 billion in funding to the THA in 2022. This figure increased to $2.578 billion last year.

Imbert said, “The most amount of money released to the THA between 2016 and 2023 was $2,578,000, released in 2023 to this assembly.”

Imbert said Government had engaged in considerable expenditure in Tobago, through several state agencies, to benefit Tobagonians.

Morris said, “And you would hear the chief secretary rebut and say the minister of finance is playing smart with foolishness but at no point did he dispute the figures and the numbers that the minister of finance indicated were given to the THA.”

The minority leader argued that the current Farley-led administration should be in a better position to manage the island’s finances and improve planning preparations, as well as issue timely payments to THA employees.