“Contrary to Prosperity”, this is how the Youth Arm of the United National Congress has described the Government’s Mid-year review of the 2015-2016 Budget. The UNC Youth Arm is of the view that this mid-year review has caused great pains and has brought fear to the citizens of Trinidad and Tobago, particularly the youths of this nation.
We are of the further view that the boldface and irresponsible decision that the Rowley-led administration took to reduce the subsidy on Diesel and Super gasoline will directly impact on the already inflated cost of living of citizens. This increase would also escalate the cost of transport which will ultimately see markups in almost all goods and services which would further impoverish persons on fixed incomes such as pensioners. Amongst, those items that would be increased is the cost of transportation which would seriously inconvenience hundreds of thousands of citizens, especially students who commute on a daily basis to and from their schools and workplaces.
Moreover, in his presentation the Minister of Finance alluded that a Task Force has been set up to review the GATE programme and it will submit a report on its findings by July 2016. The Minister indicated that it was time for the GATE programme to conserve expenditure and further indicated that there needs to be the implementation of some sort of means testing criteria for persons to access GATE by the next academic year. The UNC Youth Arm expresses its dissatisfaction with this position as the imprudent utterances of the Minister has already prejudiced any findings and/or recommendations that would be made by the Task Force. Additionally, from the statements of the Minister it is clear that the Government intends to cut the GATE programme which would only seek to set in the reverse gear for educational development in our country and leave thousands of students enrolled in the GATE programme in uncertainty as to the future of their education.
The Government has failed in its duty to outline and implement any plans to lead the nation away from economic crisis. As such we call upon the Government to outline its plans of diversification in order to stimulate economic activity to stabilize the fibrillated economy.
The UNC Youth Arm also condemns the acquisition of a new luxury S-Class Mercedes Benz by the Prime Minister. The decision of the Prime Minister is labeled as hypocritical as he asks the nation to conserve their resources and manage their expenditure in these harsh economic times while he continues to blatantly spend freely at the expense of the taxpayers. At the very least, the Prime Minister should have led by example and purchased a CNG or Hybrid vehicle like the Government is encouraging citizens to do.
We are of the view that this mid-year review has revealed the deception and dishonesty of the PNM Government. The actions taken by the Rowley-led administration would only cause discomfort and place the nation in further jeopardy.