THE former PNM government twice abandoned the country and people in times of crisis caused by ‘their own brand of busto’nomics’ that destabilised the national economy. This is how Minister of Trade, Industry, Investment and Communication, Vasant Bharath, described the state of the nation left behind by the Opposition People’s National Movement (PNM).
Bharath was at the time contributing to the debate on the Finance Variation of Appropriate Bill and Finance Bill in the Senate yesterday.
“They are a party that, in an election year, wants the nation to believe they should be voted in and have not brought a single idea or proposal on managing the current challenges of falling global energy prices,” Bharath said, adding “and they are a party that twice used their own brand of ‘busto’nomics to take us from boom to bust.”
“In 1995 and in 2010, they called early elections to avoid facing responsibility for their acute mismanagement and it was the UNC that came in and repaired the damage they left behind.”
Bharath stated the Government, now in its fourth year, has been able to stabilise the economy and restore confidence and growth, adding that diversification sectors are advancing towards a broader based economy, with non-energy revenues growing by $13B since 2010.
Bharath went further saying that the Prime Minister tackled the global energy price declines head-on by “giving a categoric statement” on how adjustments will be made and what priorities will not be compromised. He said the Prime Minister’s adjustments focused on keeping a balance between the need for social intervention programmes, and managing the needs of the private sector and driving economic activity and revenue.
Condemning the Opposition PNM’s “doom and gloom, apocalyptic rhetoric,” Bharath reminded the Senate that since 2010, the Balance of payments, foreign reserves and foreign direct investment, and all other economic fundamentals strengthened significantly.
“This is different from what they left behind, because they ignored the advice of the Central Bank Governor and economists to control their spending. They were spending at an unsustainable rate and when the global crisis hit, the people were the first ones forced to feel the burden of sudden changes,” Bharath said.
Focusing on Government’s management of the current oil price challenges, Bharath said: “What we face is a cash flow, revenue issue because of global oil prices declining. Our economic fundamentals are much stronger and we remain way ahead when compared to nations in the region. This is why based on adjustments to oil and gas price assumptions and focus on revenue generation we are confident that we can manage the present challenges without people being burdened by job losses and hardship.”
He highlighted expenditure adjustments based on decreased spending in the Public Sector Investment Programme, which will save $1 billion; goods and services for Ministries which would save up to $3.5 billion, and savings on the fuel subsidy which will be lower by $1.4 billion on account of lower oil prices.
He also called on the Opposition PNM to make public the areas of subsidies and transfers that they would remove if given the opportunity to manage the economy.