Media reports note the Chamber of Commerce is expressing “extreme disappointment” over the Rowley Government’s “abdication of its responsibility to provide necessary financial support” to the business community during the prolonged national shutdown.
This is a very serious denouncement of the Rowley regime, especially since business associations throughout T&T are endorsing this stance. They are insisting that the Government urgently reopens more businesses at this time, warning that failure to so do can result in:
– Mass closure of many small businesses.
– Escalation in the current unemployment figure of over 100,000 citizens.
– 30,000 sector employees facing the breadline.
– Massive unemployment, higher crime rates and general social instability.
Indeed, these business entities are finally echoing my very public, much repeated concerns over the past six weeks. Here, I have called for the business sector to be bolstered by Government and strategically, safely but urgently reopened to avert any further economic fallout.
I have also consistently called on the Rowley Government to account truthfully and transparently for its very questionable spending of the $20 billion dollars of taxpayers’ funds. So far, there has been absolutely no credible evidence to show that it was really spent on Covid-19 social relief as promised.
To date, the majority of citizens are yet to receive their social relief grants, even as the Government keeps making lame excuses for their ongoing delayed delivery. All the while, citizens are mercilessly forced to endure ongoing hunger, unemployment, business closures and even homelessness.
To this end, the Express newspaper was yesterday compelled to pen an editorial cautioning the Government against using these billions of taxpayers’ dollars as a convenient, but illegitimate, electioneering tool in the upcoming General Elections, where it:
– Demanded accountability for every dollar spent if T&T is to preserve any “reasonable level of financial and political integrity”
– Described the Prime Minister’s allocation of $30 million of taxpayers’ fund allocation to faith-based organizations as “a brazen display of throwing caution to the winds”
– Questioned the Government’s ongoing focus on “distribution of funds with minimal assurance of accountability”
– Noted that the Government can easily co-mingle State and political party spending and interests in an election year
– Pointed out that the Government’s funding of the pandemic response is therefore rife with “electioneering opportunities”
– Cited the “acute” need for transparency and “vigilant” accountability by Government for its Covid-19 spending as a “priority” as a result
– Noted that the task of holding the Government to account “will be largely up to civil society and independent agencies”
Essentially, everyone wants to know at this point —where has the $20billion taxpayers’ monies gone? Thus far, the Rowley regime has blatantly ignored my ongoing calls to answer this crucial question. I am therefore urging all business, media and civil society organizations to now join me in demanding that Government convenes an urgent Parliament debate to do so in the national interest.
Here, the Finance Minister must bring credible, detailed, documentary evidence to prove that the Government has in fact not used this $20 billion of taxpayers’ dollars to engage in illegitimate electioneering in the upcoming General Elections. Citizens must accept nothing less at this stage, for our nation’s very economic survival and democratic integrity is now at stake.
Stay safe and God bless.