In the wake of an IMF report stating that “Trinidad and Tobago is not in a crisis”, Leader of the Opposition Kamla Persad-Bissessar is calling on the Government to ‘stop misleading the nation and destabilising investor confidence.
In a statement issued Friday, Persad-Bissessar stated:
“Since taking office, the Rowley Government has consistently carried a message of doom and gloom over the local economy, making petty politics out of economics in attempts to condemn the former Administration.”
“The recently-released IMF Report confirms that the fundamentals of our economy are strong and that the PNM propaganda about the last government bankrupting the economy is nothing but a vicious lie.
The PP Government left this country with a strong economy and that is why it is only the reduced revenue from oil and gas that will cause a challenge.
There are no systemic faults or deficiencies as the Rowley government would have us believe.
The real problem is that the Rowley government does not have the ability to manage the coming economic storm. They are too busy putting out internal fires from Dr. Rowley’s own poor judgment on candidate selection and ministerial appointments.
That instability will make it more difficult for them to focus on dealing realistically with our problems.
The good news in the IMF report is that the PNM inherited a strong economy from the PP administration.
But in the 17 March 2016 press release on its 2016 Article IV Consultation, the IMF conclusions are similar to the Opposition’s; that while we face challenges and ‘a major shock with the sharp fall in energy prices’, Trinidad and Tobago is not in the level of crisis that Finance Minister Colm Imbert, and Prime Minister Keith Rowley have tried to make us believe.”
The former Prime Minister added:
“The IMF was also clear that the outcome of the current challenges is down to the renewal of the energy sector and progress in non-energy in the past five years, and the Rowley Administration’s economic plans to navigate our economy, plans which the PNM have still not clearly articulated.
“The IMF statement also contradicts the Finance Minister repeated attempts to mislead the public on the state of the nation’s finances, and exposes that he distorted the views of the IMF in the Senate last December.
In the Senate on 08 December 2015 in answer to a question posed by the Opposition, Imbert said: “The informal IMF team simply confirmed what we had suspected all the time—that the last administration mismanaged the economy. That is what you want to know, that is what they found.”
According to the IMF statement: “New energy projects will modestly boost energy production, while non-energy growth could start to recover, provided there is confidence in the country’s ability to navigate the harsher global environment.”
The IMF also stated:
“Despite the great challenges posed by the need to adjust to energy prices, Trinidad and Tobago still has enormous strengths, including a well-educated work force and a stable political system. With substantial financial buffers and low, albeit rising levels of public debt, Trinidad and Tobago is not in a crisis.”
This position, according to Persad-Bissessar is also corroborated by Moody’s Investor Services in a statement on 04 March 2016 that the onus is on the Government to have a clear plan for navigating the economy.
According to the statement earlier this month, ‘Moody’s places Trinidad and Tobago’s Baa2 rating on review for downgrade’:
“Moody’s would downgrade Trinidad and Tobago’s Baa2 rating if its rating review were to conclude that the government’s plans are unlikely to be adequate to sustain Trinidad and Tobago’s economic or government balance sheet strength.”
Persad-Bissessar stated that despite repeated calls from business and citizen groups, the Rowley Administration, “has failed to articulate a clear economic plan” chooses instead to blame the last Government for challenges.
“We now have two global agencies saying that the prospects for the future rely, not on the previous Government’s performance, but on the current Government’s economic plans. And we have so far not seen a clear plan, only excuses, blatant distortions and unnecessarily harsh measures.”