CHAGUANAS East MP and former Tertiary Education and Skills Training minister Fazal Karim has expressed extreme shock and dismay with the news that a reported 125 UTT staff were fired just one day after Finance Minister Colm Imbert grinned and boasted in Parliament that, “it’s going to be a bright sun-shining day.”
Karim stated in a press release on Monday that the dismissal of 125 UTT staff on the evening of Friday last, sent chilling shockwaves across the education system. Karim said that “this unfortunate development debunks the falsehoods by the PNM-led Rowley that the economy is turning around.”
Minister in the Education Ministry Dr Lovell Francis yesterday confirmed that the dismissal letters were withdrawn and the UTT administration is in talks with the workers’ representing union. Education Minister Anthony Garcia, in the Senate yesterday, said that those terminated UTT staff members were “surplus” to the university’s needs.
A press release by Karim stated that the economy was in tatters as nearly 30,000 people are unemployed, property tax looms, food prices have skyrocketed and forex is in short supply.
The economic woes are a function of gross negligence and incompetence on the part of the Keith Rowley-led government. With the government, having committed over $150 billion to date, Karim asked, “where has all that money gone?” He further stated that business confidence, in both Tobago and Trinidad, is on life support.
Karim said that the government increased both the Business Levy Fund and Green Fund Levy by 200 per cent, increased Super Gasoline by 47 per cent and Diesel by 127 per cent, increased corporation tax from 25 to 30 per cent, increased corporation tax for commercial banks from 25 to 35 per cent, and introduced a 7 per cent online tax, all on the disillusioned thinking that taxation is a sustainable solution for economic recovery.
As PNM ministers and MPs celebrated Mother’s Day last Sunday, Karim said in his release, many hundreds of families who are on the breadline were left with a sense of hopeless and deep fears for the future, “thanks to the actions of this callous government”.
Karim claimed that the UTT recruited foreign personnel to carry out the bidding of the Board in terms of firing people and hiring the favoured few.
Classrooms are now empty, Karim claimed.
The $2 billion dollar Tamana campus, he added, remains a vanity project which has not enrolled one student after a decade.
UTT has collapsed, Karim declared. “It is a slap in the face by the PNM who boasted of economic recovery; when GATE was cut, maxi drivers were clamouring for payments, three NESC centres were closed, MIC staff were fired, the laptop programme was diabolically mothballed for nearly three years, the UWI South Campus remained closed, the UTT AviationcCampus remained closed, stipends to COSTAATT nursing students are delayed, stipends to vocational students were cut and taxes were reintroduced on textbooks and computers.”