Naparima MP Rodney Charles said Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley’s recent address to the nation lacked specifics and did not constitute a plan to tackle current challenges of crime and the economy.c
“What Dr Rowley told us on Sunday was not a plan to take us forward but a list of activities upon which the State intends to embark. A plan is a roadmap, with measurable targets and set time frames to achieve identified goals.”
Charles said Rowley had shed no light on how to diversify the economy, cut the murder rate (say by 10 per cent annually), or increase foreign exchange earnings (by say billion annually), or restore profitability to Petrotrin refinery (say within three years). Charles would also have liked to see Rowley set a two month time limit for major surgeries, aim to reduce the debt to GDP ratio to under 50 per cent, improve police response time to under 30 minutes, and upgrade the Forensic Science Centre to do timely autopsies.
Charles said after Sunday he is no wiser about Petrotrin, having already known it is overstaffed, highly indebted to the State and subject of a report to restructure it. He said while Rowley said Petrotrin owes $1 billion, he made no mention of the $100 million allegedly defrauded from Petrotrin by A&V Drilling.
He said Rowley was lacking in his remarks on crime including a call to support the police, and talk of new approaches by the Strategic Services Agency and a newly energised Police Service.
Charles said we heard nothing about the deplorable state of the Forensic Science Centre, plans to reduce the rate of 23 murders in nine days of this year, remedies to TT’s open borders, the imminent return of battle-hardened ISIS fighters, or rising alienation among our youth, especially males.
Charles said Rowley said little about the foreign exchange shortage or the country’s worsening debt to GDP ratio from 52 per cent to 62 per cent since 2015 which likely caused Moody’s downgrade of TT and so will affect future investments and interest rates paid on our debts.
“The most critical issue facing the country is the need for economic diversification away from oil and gas given structural changes in the global energy sector. On this we heard nothing.”