Mayaro MP Rushton Paray has taken the Prime Minister to task over his comments on the unavailability of forex, calling them callous and grossly incompetent.
He was referring, in a media release, to an interview Rowley had with CNC3 journalist Khamal Georges, which aired on Sunday night.
In the interview, Paray said, the PM dismissed questions directed to businesses being forced to turn to the black market for forex by saying “How much of the economy is that really?”
What he witnessed from Rowley during the interview, Paray said, “is the most outrageous ignorance of how the TT economy works. Over 70 per cent of all private-sector business in TT is comprised of small to medium enterprises. And it is these very businesses which are struggling to get the forex they need to stay afloat."
If these businesses are turning to the black market for forex, he warned, "It means they will pass the cost onto customers or they will be forced to shut down. So it doesn't matter what the official rate of the TT dollar is if people have to turn to the black market."
Paray said TT is now sitting on a dangerous forex time bomb which has the potential to create an economic crisis similar to that of Venezuela, "thanks to 'Clueless Keith.’" The question also arises whether Rowley even understands the workings of the foreign exchange system, he argued.
Paray said that in the interview, Rowley appeared not to grasp the reality of the situation, as he kept repeating that devaluation would not increase forex for TT. The mere presence of a black market in forex simply means the TT dollar has been devalued, just not officially, Paray said.
“Currently, the only beneficiaries of the government stance are conglomerates who are essentially given a taxpayer subsidy in forex while the 'small man and medium-sized' business operatives suffer increased prices on basic commodities."
Paray said the PM was completely unaware of the damage he was inflicting on the nation and should put himself as well as the entire country out of its misery and call the general election.