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Tuesday 12 November 2019
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[UPDATED] Colm dumbfounded

Minister of Finance Colm Imbert.
Minister of Finance Colm Imbert.

FINANCE Minister Colm Imbert said he was left amazed and could not believe the statements by Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar in her budget response.

After the contribution of La Brea MP Nicole Olivierre on Tuesday evening, House Speaker Bridgid Annisette-George stood, looked at both benches and without speaking, retook her seat and Imbert rose to wind-up. “For some reason members opposite don’t want to contribute to this debate,” he quipped.

Imbert said Persad-Bissessar made empty promises in her budget contribution and he could not believe she was talking about devaluing the dollar. “That is a campaign promise? When you get into government you going to devalue the dollar? Increase interest rates so people will suffer? I can’t imagine who wrote that foolish speech for the Leader of the Opposition.”

He said business organisations in areas and led by people from Central and South Trinidad who would not naturally support the PNM “the business chambers came out and supported the budget.

“I was amazed. Couva/Tabaquite. Penal/Debe. Chaguanas. All came out and supported this budget. Persons that would naturally be opposed to the PNM. They came out and spoke about the wonderful 2020 budget. I was shocked.” He said manufacturers, the Chamber of Commerce, economists and even people who contested elections against the PNM had supported the budget.

“And that is why contributors on that side had absolutely nothing to say.” He also said this Government talks but the Opposition does a word with “t” in it and it also has an “h” and an “f” in it.

He claimed the Opposition was spreading fake news that CEPEP workers would be sent home following the wage increase announced in the budget. Imbert said the Opposition used “their friends in the system to peddle fake news, false information about CEPEP workers.” He repeated the intention to increase wages of CEPEP workers by 15 per cent on or before December 1, 2019.

“And if you get us vex we will do it in November.”

This story was originally published with the title "Imbert: Opposition peddling fake news about CEPEP job cuts" and has been adjusted to include additional details. See original post below.

FINANCE Minister Colm Imbert claimed the Opposition was spreading fake news that CEPEP workers would be sent home after the wage increase announced in the budget.

He was winding up budget debate in the House on Tuesday night.

He said the Opposition used "their friends in the system to peddle fake news, false information about CEPEP workers."

He repeated the intention to increase wages of CEPEP workers by 15 per cent on or before December 1.

"And if you get us vex we will do it in November."

He said the Opposition enlisted "mouthpieces" to create newspaper headlines and to frighten people.

"You see, they don't have an answer for this budget. They don't have a credible response. So they have to try and undermine it."

He added: "I can say with authority that CEPEP workers will get their increase."

He said no CEPEP workers will be sent home and no CEPEP hours will be reduced but may be increased, because the responsibilities for CEPEP have been increased, including the maintenance of the golf course on the old Petrotrin compound.

Imbert said there will be more CEPEP workers and contractors.

"So far from that false information that was in a newspaper over the weekend, CEPEP salaries going up, CEPEP workers going up, CEPEP numbers going up. And we also increasing the hours and we also increasing the amount of money that is paid to CEPEP contractors as well. We are not leaving anybody out."

Imbert was likely referring to an article in the Guardian quoting political scientist Dr Bishnu Ragoonath.

He also reiterated that the wages of URP workers were also being increased by 15 per cent.

"Because we believe in helping people at all ends of the spectrum. This is a people-oriented government."

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