Fitzgerald Hinds, deputy political leader of the People’s National Movement (PNM), says the apology by TT Chamber of Commerce head Gabriel Faria to the Prime Minister’s stinging denouncement of Faria for a private statement he made about politicians, was, to his mind, shallow.
“The damage has already been done,” Hinds said in a statement.
Last week, Faria apologised for a statement in a WhatsApp chat which he, he said, was made in his private capacity as a citizen.
Faria apologised for his tone and for the “intemperate comments about the state of play of our politics.
“It is clear that the language is inappropriate and this I very much regret,” Faria said in his apology.
However, Hinds said Faria’s apology was “limited to his tone.”
He said the tone was not the issue since politicians were accustomed to caustic tones.
“The Prime Minister’s offence, which I share, was about the content and substance of this wanton broad brushing,” Hinds said, adding, “The damage has already been done…”
Hinds, also Public Utilities Minister, reminded that the entire nation joined in the high praise of the Prime Minister and the Government for its management of the covid19 pandemic.
“This management included special attention to the business community. His government directed the Central Bank to change and lower the reserve requirement, in order to allow more money to be available for circulation in the economy. The Government went as far as to borrow money to settle a $3.2 billion debt in VAT refunds to businesses, again making that cash available to them.
“When some businesses complained they could not afford to pay their workers, the Government dug even deeper to provide income support, through the National Insurance Board, to support their workers.
“All this, in the full knowledge that businesses, whether small, medium or large, are important to our economy, though their reason for existence is to make a profit and not necessarily for the benefit of the workers.”
Hinds said, from the start of the Government’s management of the coronavirus threat, the Prime Minister “took charge and made three guiding pronouncements. These were, ‘We are all in this together!’; ‘We will all share the burden because there is a burden to be shared’ and ‘No one or group will be left behind!’
“The Minister of Finance also told the country, that he will ensure that all businesses, which were owed VAT and individuals who were owed income tax returns, would be paid, as the money continued to become available for so doing,” Hinds said.
He also said large sums of money had been paid to business operators yet the Chamber boss had disparaging statements to make.
“More poignantly, he accused all politicians of riding the backs of honest taxpaying citizens, with no care for them; and of doing so, for the sole purpose of winning elections, in order to continue to live high on their backs…One could easily understand the Prime Minister’s sentiment and reaction,” he added.
Hinds said Faria’s description of politicians did not apply to the Prime Minister and, in his statement, also heaped praises on Dr Rowley.
“This Prime Minister’s record reveals that he has given this country 40-plus years in public service. He noted that Faria has never once put himself up for public service in that way. His 40 years include service as a teacher, gazetted public servant, opposition senator, opposition leader, member of parliament, backbencher, and various ministerial appointments. Most recently, he is adding service as Prime Minister.
"During his service to the country, he obviously would have given up tremendous amounts of family time and sacrificed precious moments with his children, sometimes at significant events in their development. He would also have sacrificed his privacy and like all committed to public service, he would have made many personal sacrifices,” Hinds said.