Speaker, this House is well aware of the significant progress
made by the Tobago House of Assembly in recent years which
can be best summarized by the achievements of the tourism
sector. Indeed, what the energy sector has so successfully
achieved in Trinidad, the tourism sector has done in Tobago,
and magnificently so!
For instance, when the Standing Committee on Tourism was
set up in 2002, the number of persons employed in the
tourism industry in Tobago was estimated at 7,000. Two
years later, that number more than doubled. Thus, Tobago
accomplished, in three years, the target of 15,000.
Similarly, the island's hotel occupancy rate, currently
at 70 percent, is now close to achieving the set target
of 75 percent, compared to the 17 percent realised in
But, Mr. Speaker, Tobago's achievements are not confined
to the tourism sector. Other significant recent achievements
* Steady advances by health promotion clinic and the encouraging
progress in dealing with the HIV/AIDS situation;
* The swift, steady and effective response to the human
suffering and physical destruction associated with Hurricane
Ivan and the landslides in Windward Tobago;
* The peaceful acquisition of Pigeon Point that placed
one of our nation's treasures forever in the hands of
the Assembly and the people of Tobago; and
* The achievement of virtual full employment
I take this opportunity to congratulate the THA-led Task
Force which developed the Comprehensive Economic Development
Plan for Tobago, a plan which accords with the Vision
2020 National Strategic Plan and carefully maps for Tobago
the necessary development strategies using natural gas
as an engine of growth.
Recognising the paramount need at all times to ensure
that the people of Tobago know that their support has
not been misplaced, the air bridge must be made more reliable.
At the same time, discussions are ongoing regarding the
purchase of two fast ferries to adequately serve the sea-bridge.
In keeping with the THA's commitment to facilitating the
Tobago Heritage Land Trust, Pigeon Point has been purchased.
Cove Industrial Estate is being established as T&TEC
is in the design stage of the electricity generation station
there, human resource development is high on the agenda
as it is an imperative for the quantum leap that Tobago
must make, thus TTHTI has established a campus and the
UTT is also doing the same.
Mr. Speaker, this Budget includes an overall allocation
to Tobago of $1.3 billion, of which $1.1 million is for
recurrent expenditures; and $240.9 million for the regular
development programme, of which $80.7 million is allocated
to the Infrastructure Development Fund. A further $470.9
million would be expended under various heads of expenditure
for the direct benefit of the people of Tobago.
Indeed, as in recent years, the $500 million Capital Expenditure
Borrowing Facility for Tobago is retained in this Budget;
and will be activated by the Assembly in the next fiscal
year, in accordance with existing administrative arrangements.
The people of Tobago will therefore have access to resources
in excess of $2.3 billion for this fiscal year.