The head of the Joint Trade Union Movement (JTUM) Ancel Roget yesterday accused government of deluding the population into believing an austerity-type Budget containing IMF conditionalities was the only possible method out of the current economic straits.
Addressing a post-budget forum at the Paramount Building, Circular Road in San Fernando, Roget also likened the country to a frog being placed in a pot of water slowly being heated.
“What we are witnessing here is the boiler frog syndrome. If you take this frog and throw it into a pot or bucket of boiling water, the frog will immediately jump out. But if you put the frog in the pot and start to heat the water and you turn up the temperature degree by degree, the frog will over time adjust itself to that temperature and be acclimatised. Sooner or later, you will have a boiling frog,” Roget said.
“The frog will be saying that everything is ‘ok’ with this water that I find myself in...hot, boiling water.”
He said measures in the 2018 Budget were ones prescribed by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). “They are telling you they don’t want to go to the IMF, but they are imposing IMF conditionalities. Make no mistake about it, removal of subsides, increased taxes and all of these measures are in fact prescriptions of the IMF,” Roget said.
He said Finance Minister Colm Imbert has been talking with the IMF and has promised to impose its conditionalities and austerity measures. Referring to Imbert last year saying he had raised gas prices on two separate occasions and no one rioted, Roget said:
“So he increase gas price even more and to compound the issue, he increase the price of diesel by removing the level of subsidy and immediately you are hearing from those who provide transportation, they are saying that they cannot help but to pass that cost on and we know what that is going to do with the cost of living.”
He said Imbert was even intent on taxing the dreams of those playing Play Whe. “Their idea is to tax their way out of recession and no real plan to grow our way out of this situation, and there is absolutely no model anywhere in the world where this approach had been taken and it has proven to be successful,” he said.
Roget said the union was keeping a close eye on the restructuring plans for state-owned oil company Petrotrin, saying it had to be included in any plan for the company, which might end up “in the image and likeness of the private interest in this country, which, yet for another time, will not benefit all of us.”