Couva North MP, Ramona Ramdial has expressed her surprise at Minister Camille Robinson-Regis’ outrageous statement that the Rowley led government has navigated the country through rough seas.
Ramdial is instead stating that, “it is the Rowley led government that has led us into rough seas with no hope of a safe return”.
MP Ramdial reminds the population that it is the Rowley led government who is solely responsible for the stagnation of the economy as after four years there has been no real growth due to poor fiscal policies. “Standards and Poor’s (S&P) in April of 2018 gave T&T a credit rating from stable to negative. This caused the Minister of Finance to panic and he travelled to the USA to ‘explain’ and invited S&P to Trinidad before reporting on 2019. There has been no major foreign direct investment with government terminating the latest HDC contract by a Chinese firm due to unexpected exposure from a reputable economist. Many small and medium businesses have closed down due to forex shortages and high corporate taxes making way for the business elites or the 1% to monopolise the business sector. It is harder to do business in TT now than it was four years ago”, said Ramdial.
Minister Camille Robinson-Regis also said that there had been no job cuts in the public sector which is clearly a misleading statement. Ramdial replied, “We have witnessed thousands of our citizens sent home by this uncaring PNM government. Public sector jobs include almost 500 UTT workers sent home under the Ministry of Education, approximately 5000 Petrotrin workers retrenched with closure of the refinery, hundreds of contract workers in various ministries sent home due to non-renewal of contracts over the four years which has been a strategy by the government to downsize the labour force in the public sector. There have been thousands of job losses in the private sector, from Arcellor-Mittal to Unilever, major construction companies, and nearly every privately owned business has downsized in recent times”.
“Inflation is extremely high especially food inflation. The average citizen can be heard complaining of higher prices every time they shop at the supermarkets. The government has done absolutely nothing to control high food prices and have instead introduced 12.0% VAT on zero-rated items and removed 18,000 names from the food card system during their tenure”, said Ramdial.
Our revenue generating streams have all but dried up as the energy sector has remained dormant over the past four years. All revenues now being derived from the energy sector are from investments made during the former People’s Partnership Government tenure. No new exploration contracts have gone out for oil and gas or if they have, the government has been secretive of details.
Another sector plagued by the PNM government is tourism. Ramdial again responding to Robinson-Regis’ “navigate the rough seas” comment stated that, “government’s mismanagement of the ferry service has crippled Tobago’s tourism sector hence creating “rough seas” through which all of this government’s sourced ferries have had difficulty navigating”. Government’s dismantling of the Tourism Development Company (TDC) resulted in newly formed Trinidad Tourism Limited overseeing Trinidad & Tobago becoming one of only three Caribbean destinations to record a negative growth in tourism; the others being Haiti and Bermuda. This was stated by the Caribbean Tourism Organization which recorded a 2.2% drop in Trinidad and Tobago’s tourism sector with a 28.8% decline in cruise ship arrivals in their June 2019 report, despite assurances by the Minister of Tourism in November 2018 that cruise ship arrivals had increased by 145%. CEO of the Trinidad Hotels, Restaurants & Tourism Association, Brian Frontin stated that Trinidad & Tobago has lost over 60,000 tourists from 2015 to present.
Crime has continued to spiral out of control with the murder rate increasing. Government’s solution has been to bring legislation to Parliament which can never be sufficient. Other issues causing crime have not been properly addressed: dealing with the rogue elements within the protective services, maintaining our national security assets is non-existent due to lack of funding, securing of our borders is ineffective as demonstrated by the lackadaisical response of national security to the missing fishermen, little or no prison reform, and a broken judiciary.