Couva South MP Rudranath Indarsingh is questioning the accuracy of retrenchment statistics cited by Central Bank Governor Alvin Hilaire.
In an interview with Newsday on Thursday, Indarsingh said Hilaire’s figures do not compute with the sum government said it has paid out in salary relief grants to date.
He said the Minister of Labour Stephen McClashie must say what are the true unemployment figures as Hilaire seemed to be firing "statistical blanks."
In a subsequent release, Indarsingh emphasised that in addition to giving the true unemployment figure as per the ministry’s statistics, McClashie must give the source of the statistics plus the number of retrenchment and layoff notices that have been formally reported to the Ministry since the covid19 pandemic.
He said this must be done in an open and transparent manner as he noted with “harrowing concern” the retrenchment statistics Hilaire gave for the first six months of 2020.
“Governor Hilaire went on record to express that only 365 people lost their jobs for the period aforementioned. We in the United National Congress (UNC) vehemently doubt the accuracy of these statistics.”
“The Governor of the Central Bank may be firing statistical blanks,” Indarsingh said
He noted that before the election then Social Development Minister Camille Robinson-Regis said $112 million was paid out in salary relief grants intended to supplement the incomes of those who were severely affected through job losses during the covid19 lockdown.
“It cannot mathematically be that the sum of $112 million grant was released to only 365 people.
“Desperate cries for help by members of the public at our constituency and councillor’s offices indicate that the true extent of job loss as a result of restructuring layoffs and business/plant closures seems to vastly exceed any figures published thus far by the arms of the State.”
The MP said recent reports about the liquidation of Trincity Mall and Long Circular Mall, key assets of state-owned CL Financial, indicate that business closures and layoffs have been occurring over an extended period in 2020, “and quite possibly exceed the sheepish figure offered by the Governor.”
He called on Hilaire to reveal his source of these statistics, as they seem to accidentally or deliberately misrepresent the real extent of job loss for the period.
“Indeed, this Governor seems to be firing statistical blanks. Staff cuts at the Newsday, others at a prestigious food establishment, the closure of the TT Tourism and Hospitality Institute (TTHTI), closure of Arcelor Mittal, Methanol Holdings, Centrin, Tube City IMS, Yara, the shuttering of the Proman M3 Methanol Plant, the temporary shuttering of Nutrien’s PCS 02 ammonia production plant, and the imminent cuts at BP strongly suggest that there is extreme variance between Governor Hillarie’s irksome statistics and the reality of unemployment in our economy.”
Using the covid19 statistics to paint a picture of the difference in infection and deaths before and after the election, similarly, Indarsingh said, “I am concerned about the Government’s use of questionable data to inform false headlines and give a false sense of competence and economic leadership.”