Urban municipal financing system of Trinidad and Tobago

Trinidad y Tobago is a parliamentary republic. There are two types of local government: municipal corporations in Trinidad and a single House of Assembly in Tobago. The principal legislations regarding local governments are the Municipal Corporations Act in Trinidad and the Tobago Island Government Bill, which recently came out to update and reform the functions of the Tobago’s government. In Trinidad the Municipal Corporations Act was updated and reformed with the Local Government Reform Bill of 2019 in an attempt of developing decentralization mechanisms which allowed them to collect and use property taxes as well as fines and fees. 

On the contrary The Tobago House of Assembly does not have the authority to collect or raise taxes except in behalf of the central government. The principal income of local governments in Trinidad and Tobago are the transfers made by the central government, which are especially important for the income of Tobago given that they cannot collect their own revenue. 

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Financing instruments

Select the type of Financing instruments from the following list:
  • This fund corresponds to the income which Tobago collects in forms of taxes, fees, duties, levies or others in behalf of the central government which is appopiated and distributed by the parliament for their use.

Legal base

Territorial entity analyzed
1. Municipal
Recognized local autonomy

The autonomy of the Tobago House of Assembly is partial, it does not have the power to collect and spend their own revenue but it can formulate and implement policy along with stablishing an annual budget approved by the central government.

Art. 4.

4.    The Preamble of the Constitution is amended by inserting after paragraph  (c), the following paragraph:  “ (ca) recognise-  (i)    the right to self-determination of the people of Trinidad and Tobago, including the right of the people of the Island of Tobago to determine in Tobago...

Art. 5.

5.    (1) In accordance with the powers under section 75(A) (1) (b) of the Constitution, the Tobago Executive Council shall have exclusive jurisdiction for the administration within Tobago of the matters set out in Schedule 1  ...

Art. 8.

Section 53 of the Constitution is amended by renumbering that section as section 53(1) and inserting the following subsection:  “(2) Subject to subsections (1) and (3), the Tobago Legislature may make laws for the peace, order and good government of Tobago with respect to the matters as...

Art. 12.

The Constitution is amended by inserting after section 75, the following sections  75A. (1) There shall be a Tobago Executive Council which  shall have-  (a) the general direction and control of the Tobago Island Government and shall be collectively responsible therefor to the Tobago Le...

Art. 141 A. (6)

Except on the recommendation or with the consent of the Tobago Executive Council, the House of Assembly shall not –  (a) proceed upon any Bill, including any amendment to a Bill, which in the opinion of the person presiding, makes provision for any of the following purposes:  (i) for i...

Art. 141 A. (7)

In this section a public Bill which, in the opinion  of the Presiding Officer in the Tobago Legislature, contains only provisions dealing with all or any of the following matters, namely:  (a) the imposition, for the payment of debt or other financial purposes, of charges on public mone...

Own resources

The Tobago House of Assembly  can set an annual budget and send the proposal to the Central Goverment which will allocate the money in the Tobago Fund, besides the fees and fines that can impose for their services and use of facilities. 

Art. 29.

Parliament shall appropriate for the use of the House of Assembly for any financial year no less than 6.8 percent of the total sum appropriated by Parliament in that financial year or such other percentage to be determined by the Fiscal Review Committee and approved by the Parliament by...

Art. 30.

(1) There shall be a fund to be called “the Tobago Fund” which shall consist of –  (a) such monies as shall be appropriated by Parliament for the use of the Tobago Island Government; and  (b) such other monies as the Tobago Island Government may lawfully collect, borrow or be granted.  ...

Special regime
Taxation powers

The Tobago House of Assembly can only collect revenue in behalf of the central government and can only spend it with the approval of the ministry. Nevertheless they have the administrative faculty to manage the transferred resources.  

Art. 31.

1) Notwithstanding section 13 of the Exchequer and Audit Act, all revenue collected in Tobago on behalf of the Government and payable thereto in respect of activities undertaken or discharged in Tobago shall be paid into the Tobago Fund.  (2) Upon the coming into force of this Act, an...

Art. 38.

The Secretary with responsibility for finance shall make Financial Rules as are necessary for the proper management of the finances of the Tobago Island Government which Rules shall be approved by the Tobago Legislature.  ...

Competences - Spending responsibilities
Schedule 1

1.    Agriculture  2.    Community Development  3. Construction and maintenance of public buildings and the maintenance of  the residences of the President and Prime Minister  4.    Co-operatives  5.    Culture and the Arts  6.    Customs and Excise  7.    Education including Curriculum...