Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley has assured the National Tripartite Advisory Committee (NTAC) that he will do everything possible to ensure that Trinidad and Tobago does not end up at the doorsteps of the International Monetary Fund.
He was prepared to lose votes, he said, rather than place the nation at the mercy of the IMF.
This is according to a release from the NTAC which said it was one of many pointed statements he made when he addressed NTAC members at the first meeting at the resumption of talks between labour, the private sector and the government at La Lune Conference Room, Eric Williams Financial Complex on September 20.
The talks between the three parties were suspended earlier this year. On his determination to not to end up at the IMF, the release said, Rowley reiterated the harsh realities which the country faces in its development.
The large deficit facing the treasury, $38 billion in revenues as against $51 billion in expenditure, he said, needed little effort in appreciating the harsh economic decisions which have to be made.
He was confident that labour, the private sector and Government have the capacity to measure up to the challenges which confront the nation. With the backing of civil society organisations and the population in general, he said, there was no reason why the nation could not weather the storm without IMF intervention.
He challenged the council of the NTAC to place high on its agenda their role in facilitating Government’s determination to stay far away from the doors of the IMF in resetting its platform.
Given the prevailing circumstances, he said, the decisions which will be made to ensure safe distance from the IMF will not be popular nor painless. However, all all reasonable steps, he said, will be taken to ensure they will be constructive, productive, sensible and bearable with sights set on future developmental outcomes.
Any other consideration, he said, would see the country at the mercy of the IMF, an option which he said would be exponentially worse than current social and economic conditions. Noting that there is not enough employee ownership within the State sector, he said, it was an issue to be addressed.
He was concerned that, in spite of allocations for the delivery of health and national security services rising fivefold or more, the results had not been commensurate with increased expenditure. He challenged NTAC to also focus on social and economic imbalances to enhance the quality of customer service delivery to the population at large.
The NTAC, he said, needs to address issues relating to the delivery of legal and judicial services which form an integral component of the national development landscape.
Calling for unity during this period of adversity, he said, this was the worse time for Government, labour and private sector to be at war with one another. He assured Government’s commitment to tripartism.