Providenciales, 17 Mar 2015 – The Department of Maritime Affairs needs more gas money and Fisheries man and Member from South Caicos Norman Saunders promised that the Appropriations Committee will go to bat to help them get it.
“They can’t do a lot of stuff for the lack of fuel, and why is it that the amount for fuel remains so low or remains static with previous years.”
Saunders said the lack of fuel for DEMA boats is often cited as the reason there is not heavier patrolling for protection of the TCI waters. It was admitted in the Appropriations meeting at the House of Assembly last week that more monies for funding a bigger fuel bill was requested.
DEMA: “I am sure we have put in a bit more than this…”
Hon. Saunders: “Are you confirming that you need more money in the fuel boat? …”
DEMA: “Yes, we did put in for more; but I don’t know whether it was cut.”
That’s when Saunders, who is a member of the Committee explained there will be a recommendation. New Permanent Secretary for Tourism, Desiree Lewis also promised a review.
Desiree Lewis: “Madame Chair what I would state here as well to the Honourable member, what we will do is we will review the various operating expenses…”
The government in the 2014-2015 Fiscal year had budgeted $28,000 for fuel for DEMA & the Protected Areas Department’s vessels; that’s in essence, $76 a day to gas up boats to protect 238 square miles of territory; including around 50 islands and cays. It was also revealed that there is a greater investment coming for Environmental Awareness Week; up from around $2,400 for the entire nation for the week to ten times that figure, at $24,000 budgeted now. Outgoing Permanent Secretary for Tourism, Wesley Clerveaux said Government was told it must do better in this area.
Wesley Clerveaux: “One of the concerns that was raised during the Tourism Symposium is that the Government needs to pay a little more protection of Environmental Protection.”
At this time, the Environment Department commands only 2.4% of the country’s budget yet is responsible for protecting the lifeblood of the country’s leading industry: Tourism and the country’s only export industry: Fisheries.