Augustine: Ex-gratia payment will soon bring smiles

The content originally appeared on: News Americas Now

Black Immigrant Daily News

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Chief Secretary Farley Augustine –

Chief Secretary Farley Augustine said the promised ex-gratia payment will put smiles on the faces of Tobago House of Assembly (THA) staff.

Concerns were raised on social media on Monday after the entire Executive Council resigned from the Progressive Democratic Patriots (PDP).

The ex-gratia payment was one of the campaign promises by the PDP in the December 6, 2021 THA election.

PDP leader Watson Duke had initially promised to deliver it before Christmas 2021 if the party was successful in the election. “We will find the money,” Duke had told supporters. “That is why you put us there – to find the money. Doh study that. When we begin to pull the books under Chief Secretary Farley Augustine, and we find the money, we will take money and put dey. That is what a government does.

“We come to take charge, we ain’t come to play.”

In a Tobago Updates interview on Tuesday, Augustine assured THA workers that the payment is coming.

He said, “When I did the presentation in January on the state of the economy, I pointed out that the ex-gratia payment would have to come between the end of the fiscal year and the end of the calendar year, which could be around now. I came later on at a question asked and I regurgitated that response and then earlier in the month of November, I came, and I indicated that preparations are in place to ensure that that ex-gratia payment can be made before the end of the year.”

He said he has already given notice to the Chief Administrator so that notice can be given to all the administrators in terms of the execution of that payment.

“Lots of people would smile this year end,” he said.

“When you look in the mandate, did the mandate indicate timelines for when the ex-gratia payment would be made? The answer for that is no – certainly we are keeping the promise of providing the ex-gratia payment.”

He said in December 2021, the people of Tobago opted for change, and his team will maintain the mandate as promised. Among the issues they promised to address are housing, land management, land titles, agriculture and food security, fishing and the blue economy, safety and security at sea, education, e-governance and healthcare.

Augustine had promised that within his first 100 days in office, the THA would develop and implement financial rules to ensure efficiently and transparency. He claimed proper procurement was lacking within the THA and corruption was rife.

“All of those things are things that require fixing – I don’t know that we gave false hope but that we raised the bar extremely high for would-be secretaries. Not too high because I have learnt in life that the higher you raise the bar, you may not always reach it, but you would certainly end up in the stratosphere and that’s why you don’t aim for things on the ground, that’s why you aim for stars.”

He said what was experienced in the last 21 years in Tobago was “difficult, so hard, so messy, that this team has no choice but to raise the bar extremely high on what we ought to do.”

He added, “We cannot be just sitting down and hoping that things would get better, we have to start the efforts now, put in the efforts now, so that whether I am here ten years from now or 20 years from now – regardless of who is here – we could look back and talk about when that revolution started, when this great fix started, and how we got to this place.

“But its going to be messy, it’s going to require doing some messy stuff to clean up this place and ensuring that we can get Tobago at the ideal place.”