Imbert announces $ 50 million rescue package for Tobago tourism

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Bay Store, Tobago. Photo courtesy of David Reid

The government has unveiled a new $ 50 million initiative to help hotels and other tourism-related businesses in Tobago that have been severely affected by the covid19 pandemic over the past 18 months.

Presenting the 2022 budget to the House of Representatives on Monday, Finance Minister Colm Imbert said the program, titled Tobago Hotel and Tourism Support, will be managed by the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) in collaboration with Evolving TecKnologies and Enterprise Development Ltd .

He added that the two entities will review the applications and assist the THA in the design and administration of the program.

“The objective of this support program is to provide access to essential working capital for the hospitality and tourism industry in Tobago, which has been particularly affected by the pandemic. “

Imbert said Tobago has been deeply affected by covid19 and the government is ready to put it on a sustainable path of recovery and resilience.

“As Minister of Finance, I am committed to implementing the necessary measures to help the island accelerate the pace of economic recovery. “

The $ 50 million initiative was one of the highlights of the tax program for Tobago. The island received an allocation of $ 2.357 billion to run its affairs over the next 12 months. It represents 4.5% of the national budget.

Of this, $ 2.075 billion has been set aside for current spending, $ 264 million for capital spending and $ 18 million for the unemployment assistance program.

Imbert also announced an allocation of $ 30 million for agricultural land development in Tobago.

“This funding is designed to enable the rehabilitation of abandoned or underutilized agricultural estates and to help Tobago farmers upgrade the infrastructure, equipment and technology of existing farmland and bring new areas into production. . “

In line with the theme of preserving and protecting the environment and branding Tobago as “clean, green and serene”, he said that $ 20 million had also been allocated for the development of green spaces on the island. in 2022.

Imbert said money will also be provided to support the ongoing fight against covid19 as well as through the assembly’s social safety net programs to help those affected by the pandemic.

Funds will also be allocated to cover road and drainage infrastructure, modernization of coastal infrastructure, adaptation to climate change and to mitigate coastal erosion linked to global warming and sea level rise.

In addition, funding will also be provided to improve ICT and digital infrastructure as Tobago adapts to the new normal “and deploys its ‘smart island’ mandate”.

Imbert said $ 788 million will be spent in Tobago by various ministries and statutory authorities in accordance with obligations under the Sixth Schedule of Law 30 of 1996.

He recalled that during fiscal year 2021, with Cabinet approval, the THA was able to mobilize $ 164.1 million through bond financing to finance selected development projects.

“Over the next fiscal year, additional resources will be made available through this channel to fund capital projects in Tobago.

“It is envisioned that this financial flexibility will provide the necessary boost in mobilizing financial resources to advance Tobago’s development momentum.

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