People are hoarding foreign currency waiting for a devaluation of the TT dollar but this will negatively affect the nation’s poorest.
Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley made this statement on Friday night at the People’s National Movement post-budget public meeting held at Piggott’s Corner, Belmont.
Rowley said there is a genuine belief by some people that if the dollar is devalued they will get more TT dollars but on the other side it will increase costs and inflation with the biggest impact being on the “poorest of poor.”
He said Government has chosen to allow pressures on the dollar to slowly or imperceptibly push the levels up so people have time to adjust.
“There are people who have been hoarding foreign currency in this country waiting for a devaluation. And the only advice to give the Government is to devalue the currency because they stand to benefit personally for a little while.” He continued: “If such persons benefit by a drastic devaluation it has to be at the expense of the wider national community. And on that basis the Government has not chosen that option.”
He said Government could balance the budget simply by cutting public servant jobs and they had advice from experts to cut more jobs but they chose not to do so.
“You better say thank God to the People’s National Movement government for putting employment in front of everything else because we understand when you lose a job it is a family and maybe more than one family affected there.”
On the reduction of the diesel subsidy, he said TT still has the cheapest fuel in Caricom and among the cheapest in the world but with the economic situation it is logical that government will have to reduce the subsidy.
Rowley said Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar had accused Government of not appointing a substantive Commissioner of Police and questioned what that had to do with the budget, describing it as “mauvais langue”.
He said Government wants to abolish the current selection arrangement and he feels for Acting Commissioner Stephen Williams who has had multiple acting stints. He said as head of the National Security Council he has told Williams, “you are my Commissioner of Police” and he will work with him.