RETIRED head of the public service Reginald Dumas has advised the THA to establish a small board of people “considered impartial” to review contracts awarded for development initiatives in Tobago.
He gave the advice on Tuesday in response to concerns raised recently about the granting of contracts to Trinidad contractors within the past few months.
“We should have a small board looking at contracts that are awarded, because this has come up recently.
"It is all very well to have a forensic audit into certain things that the previous administration (PNM) did. But then the previous administration has lashed back and accused the PDP of doing the same thing,” he told Newsday.
Dumas suggested the establishment of what he called a small citizens' body from outside the THA to review contracts being considered for award.
“The board will make the recommendations, because the decision rests with the executive council on whether such a contract should be awarded, and if so, to whom.”
He alluded to a recent allegation about a roofing company that was awarded a contract to construct roads.
“When you hear things like that, it raises a few questions, and I have not heard anything from the chief secretary on this matter. I would like to hear from him if this is true.
"And if it is, what is he going to do about it, because it is clearly a misuse, on the face of it, of taxpayers' money.”
Dumas said the work of the board must not be about party politics but the development of the island.
He also called on the PDP-led THA to begin a series of public consultations with Tobagonians to discuss the island’s development. He said since the party won the December 6, 2021, THA elections and formed the THA, the members of the assembly have not met with the people.
Dumas said the assembly’s $2.521 billion allocation could be a good starting point for the discussions.
“I would like to see a consultation between the administration and the people of Tobago in a series of community meetings so they could hear suggestions, proposals in relation to the development of Tobago and how they might use the money more creatively and productively what they have received from central government,” he told Newsday.
After Finance Minister Colm Imbert’s presentation of the $57.6 billion budget in the Parliament on Monday, Chief Secretary Farley Augustine said he was disappointed with Tobago’s allocation, as the THA had requested $3.97 billion in its June presentation.
Augustine said an increased allocation would have allowed the THA to pursue more projects.
Instead, he said the bulk of the allocation will again be used for recurrent expenditure – paying salaries and general upkeep of the THA divisions.
Of Tobago’s $2.521 billion allocation, $2.194 billion was set aside for recurrent expenditure, $300 million for the THA’s development programme, $18 million for URP and $9.2 million for CEPEP.