Tobago House of Assembly (THA) Chief Secretary Farley Augustine has sought to explain the payment of $25,000 to political commentator Dr Winford James for editing the fiscal 2022/2023 THA budget statement.
Earlier this week the invoice began circulating on social media, raising questions about the total fee and whether the editing of the annual statement is normal practice. However, speaking at the THA’s Post Executive media briefing on Thursday Augustine explained that the editing of the budget comprised of several, not just one session.
He said that the entire process involves a number of meetings, many of which went straight until late at night, so that there would be enough time to pull information, research and requests together from all nine divisions within the THA.
“And every single day we would write, collate information and then we would send that to Dr James who would edit the areas completed…and of course we will have several drafts that would have to be edited and edited until the very final draft is ready. And it was for those editing services- we talking about grammatical editing, editing for structure, for syntax and all of those things, Dr James who is a former Head of Deaprtment at UWI and who is accustomed editing thesis and stuff, he did the editing work.”
He said the individuals who made the invoice public were just “trying to create some noise” as, within the THA itself, there are no individuals with that skillset (editing). He said when preparing a budget or any sort of financial document, there is always a need for confidentiality until such time that the final document is ready.
“Can you imagine if we were trying to use workers within the division to do the language editing, then the budget would have been out and all over the place. We would have had unfinalised versions out there confusing the public.”
Augustine pointed out however that such payment for services was “not new.”
“I am certain some of this happens even in the ministries in Trinidad, so I don’t understand where the noise must come from.”
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