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Tuesday 19 February 2019
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Imbert: Tewarie told a ‘big lie’

 Finance Minister Colm Imbert is all smiles during a meeting of the Finance Standing Committee in Parliament on January 14. The House approved the committee's report for fiscal 2018 on Friday.. PHOTO BY ROGER JACOB
Finance Minister Colm Imbert is all smiles during a meeting of the Finance Standing Committee in Parliament on January 14. The House approved the committee's report for fiscal 2018 on Friday.. PHOTO BY ROGER JACOB

The Opposition on Friday supported the Government’s motion to adopt the Report of the Standing Finance Committee for fiscal 2018.

But this came only after Finance Minister Colm Imbert, in his wind up of the debate on the motion, tore apart Caroni Central MP Dr Bhoe Tewarie’s contribution.

In his contribution, Tewarie painted a dismal picture of TT’s economy, lamenting what he considered to be its steady contraction. He also claimed the economy had declined in almost every sector.

This did not sit well with Imbert, who accused Tewarie, a former planning minister in the People’s Partnership administration, of using a technique, which he called the “big lie.”

The word “lie” is regarded as unparliamentary and Speaker Bridgid Annisette-George cautioned Imbert on at least two occasions, against using the word to describe members of the Opposition.

Saying the “big lie” was a “propaganda technique” coined by Adolf Hitler in his 1925 book, Mein Kampf, Imbert accused the UNC of using the technique, “telling such colossal untruths that persons would doubt themselves and begin to believe this propaganda.”

The minister said Tewarie’s contribution could not be further from the truth.

“I heard the member for Caroni Central in this debate. Here is what he said, 'The economy has contracted. Every single sector in the economy has declined in 2018. No foreign investment.'

“The best weapon against the big lie is the truth and since they (UNC) are the proponents of the big lie, the truth is offending them.”

At this point, Annisette-George warned Imbert against imputing improper motives.

However, Imbert continued: “This is simply a well-known propaganda technique that has been studied and researched. It has been published. It has been a feature of examination now for almost 100 years.”

Imbert said if the word “lie” offended them, he could have instead spoken about the history of fake news, disinformation or propaganda.

“The fact is that the member for Caroni Central utilised a particular propaganda technique, that the bigger the untruth the more the supporters on the other side will begin to believe it once you repeat it over and over and over.”

Imbert dismissed Tewarie’s contribution as a “colossal untruth.”

In response, Tewarie wondered if Imbert was aware that a publication, Monetary Policy Report of the Central Bank, for November 2018, had been issued.

“He (Imbert) should have a good read to find out where the country is at this time,” Tewarie said.

The House was adjourned to Friday at 1.30 pm, Private Members’ Day.

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