FORMER minister in the finance ministry Mariano Browne said Finance Minister Colm Imbert’s presentation at the Spotlight on the Budget and Economy 2021 on Monday showed the minister is “caught in stasis.”
“The minister is not prepared to change.” Browne said Imbert spoke about mandatory payments, debt obligations and salaries for state enterprises.
“By now we should have examined which state enterprises are important and are critical to move forward and determine what we have to salvage and what we can’t. Because we can’t continue with business as usual.”
He said Imbert complained he had to pay $5 billion due by TT Electricity Commission (T&TEC) to the National Gas Company (NGC).
“Well NGC and T&TEC did not enter those arrangements by themselves. They were arrangements which were part of a plan which was organised by the State. And if the feasibility of that plan has changed then the underlying arrangements have to change too.”
Browne said similar changes need to be made with arrangements with the Water and Sewerage Authority (WASA) and he noted Imbert commented on the payments being made to Desalcott.
He explained Desalcott’s water was essentially supposed to be supplied to energy sector companies so these companies would not be drawing from the normal water system and depriving the population.
“But the difficulty is if we have ten plants down and (if) they are not up and running then they are not using water. If they are not using water to take up their arrangements then somebody has to pay for it. And the energy companies did not enter those arrangements on their own, the Government facilitated it and caused WASA to enter into those arrangements. So the problem is not WASA.”
He pointed out WASA has not had a rate increase in 50 years and TSTT for about 22 years. “Well they will be making losses and the State will have to pay for it. And the reason why they have not raised their fares is because the State is preventing them from raising their fares.