In a statement to the media today, Leader of the Opposition, Mrs. Kamla Persad-Bissessar indicated that she is keenly anticipating the forthcoming address to the nation by Prime Minister Keith Rowley. She noted that the PNM has already begun to speak in veiled language about the return to the IMF and urged the Government to desist from such action which is inevitably destined to bring more hardship to the people. In addition, she warned that the PNM’s compulsion to put their hands in the cookie jar of the Heritage and Stabilisation Fund has already been signaled and this will further impoverish the nation.
The Opposition Leader asserted that it is incumbent upon Dr. Rowley to reassure fearful citizens that the Rowley-led PNM Government has no intention of devaluing the TT dollar, as this would only bring further economic hardship to an already encumbered population, since almost all of our manufacturing inputs and other essential consumer goods are imported, including food, pharmaceuticals and medical equipment.
She also called on Dr. Rowley to inform the nation, via his address, of which previously zero-rated products are now subject to VAT, as well as the Rowley-led government’s current position on wage negotiations in the public sector.
Additionally, Mrs. Persad-Bissessar entreated the Prime Minister to let the growing body of unemployed persons know what is going to be done to assist them with food, mortgages and other expenses and urged the government to begin discussions with financial institutions to begin to save persons from losing their properties.
She said that while she is fully aware of the drop in oil prices and the lack of control which the government faces with energy prices as a whole she is disappointed that a plan of action to deal with the worsening situation has not been announced by the government.
However, Mrs. Persad-Bissessar stated that she is hopeful that Dr. Rowley would present a valid and reasoned arguments for his Government’s chosen position on fundamental matters including the management of the economy and the finances of the country as well as that the role of the Parliament, as the Legislative arm of Government, in such decisions.
She maintained that a mere promise to consult stakeholders will not be sufficient if the Government decides to proceed with its apparent plan to make adjustments that are structural and for which the people of this nation are at present, emotionally and materially unprepared. On matters that would affect the whole of Trinidad and Tobago, the views of the people must be heard through their democratically elected representatives in the Parliament. The dictatorial thrust of the Rowley Government and their “WE are in charge” approach, creates a great deal of unease to citizens who have fought for freedom to participate in the national decision-making process and for a democracy for the people of the people and by the people.
The Opposition Leader also recorded with grave concern, the manner in which the Rowley-led PNM government has persisted in dismantling state companies and independent institutions like the Central Bank, and in the process, arbitrarily damaging the careers and professional reputations of many state employees without any care for the future. In this regard, the Leader of the Opposition, vowed to continue to fearlessly defend the principles of transparency, accountability and good governance.
She surmised that the circumstances and manner under which former Governor of the Central Bank Mr. Jwala Rambarran was dismissed begs the question which is already being asked by the public whether this was done to accommodate the installation of a Central Bank Governor who may possibly be inclined to concur with the government directives, especially in circumstances where such directives may not be in the primary interest of the country.
Mrs. Persad-Bissessar said that she is hopeful that the motive behind the changes at the Central Bank are not meant to favourably accommodate and facilitate the friends, families and business associates of the Rowley administration.
The surreptitious firing of Mr. Rambarran in the absence of the substantive President leaves great doubt about the sincerity of the Keith Rowley Government. More and more they cannot be trusted as their spoken words and done action are poles apart revealing a hypocrisy that is unparalleled in our political culture.
The image of the PM playing golf in Barbados with friends tells the story of how callous and unconcerned is this Rowley government with the plight of the people.
She lamented that while the PNM government of Dr. Keith Rowley proclaimed that that attention must be given to the children of the nation, they must be reminded them that children have not received book grants, text books as well as laptop computers. Their future is being snatched from their book bags.
The Opposition Leader ended by warning that the consequences of imposing bitter pills upon the population is due to an inherent incompetence of Dr. Keith Rowley’s PNM to govern effectively and will result in social disaster and economic ruin.
The Office of The Leader of the Opposition