TWO members of the former People’s Partnership administration have given opposing views on the 2020 national budget delivered on Monday by Finance Minister Colm Imbert.
Former justice minister and UNC St Joseph MP Herbert Volney, who fell out with that party, says this budget was one for the poor while Vasant Bharath, former UNC senator and food production minister, said the budget was a “sorry tail of failure” by the PNM.
In a post on his Facebook page, Volney said he has yet to hear any significant response by the UNC to the budget. “All the Leader of the Opposition was able to say on television was that giving led bulbs was the only bright idea, and some crumbs were offered,” he observed. Volney disagreed with Persad-Bissessar’s view. “No, no. The PNM is the party of the poor Trinidadian who benefit from the Cepep and URP programs.”
Volney said, “That 15 per cent increase or $11.25 per day on the pay means the world for both URP and Cepep workers.” He claimed the former People’s Partnership government “failed to help these poor and needy workers.”
Volney also said increasing the minimum wage from $15 to $17.50 per hour is “a huge increase for minimum wage earners in their tens of thousands.”
Similar to Cepep and URP workers, Volney said this “means the world to these workers and are not the crumbs Persad-Bissessar described it as.
Volney added, “This was a fiscally disciplined and balanced budget to bring Trinidad back from the brink the government inherited in 2015.”
For his part, Bharath described the budget as “a sorry tale of failures, fiascos and flops.” He said the budget was “devoid of any plan to address the current and very real problems facing the population.”
Bharath claimed the budget which continued “ to betray the poor and middles classes.” He said Imbert “rattled off a series of mega projects, none of which can be considered necessarily or fiscally prudent.” Bharath also claimed TT was saddled with over $100 billion or “almost $80,000 worth of debt owed by every single man, woman and child in TT, with new debt being created to pay interest on existing debt.”
He said a government, like a bank, is “an act of faith. According to Bharath, “ It survives only for as long as people believe that it will. It will not survive for long by exploiting blind faith.”