Kamla: TT in a 'twindemic'

Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar 

Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar PHOTO COURTESY OFFICE OF THE PARLIAMENT

OPPOSITION Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar on Monday declared that Government had crashed TT's economy and the covid19 pandemic has made the country's economic predicament more dire.

Speaking with reporters at the Red House after Finance Minister Colm Imbert presented the 2020/2021 budget, Persad-Bissessar claimed, "We are in a twindemic."

Persad-Bissessar, who will respond to Imbert when the budget debate continues in the House of Representatives on Friday, said, "There is nothing in the budget to give people hope."

While Government exempted people earning $7,000 or less per month from paying income tax, Persad-Bissessar said any relief from that measure would be wiped out by measures which make it impossible for ordinary citizens to buy cars and which will raise some food prices.

"They give with one hand and take away with the other."

She claimed the PNM was taking TT back to the 1980s, when only the rich would be able to afford certain things.

On Imbert's announcement that all National Petroleum (NP) gas stations would be sold, Persad-Bissessar asked, "What will happen to NP? Is NP to become just a delivery service?"

Questioning the process by which the stations would be sold, Persad-Bisssessar wondered if this could lead to "the formation of cartels" that could control the price consumers pay for fuel at the pump.

She was also worried about what privatisation of the Port of Spain port, restructuring of the Water and Sewerage Authority (WASA) and freezing of vacant positions in the Public Service meant for the security of people's jobs and the ability to find employment.

While admitting to being happy at Imbert's announcement of a $50 million allocation for laptop computers to children in need, Persad-Bissessar said she was upset to later learn that this initiative would not help some 65,000 children who need laptops.

She asked whether money allocated to expand and upgrade the ANR Robinson International Airport in Tobago could instead be used to provide laptops while making it clear that she was not saying that works at the airport should not happen.

She questioned what luxury food items would Government be imposing taxes on.

On Imbert's statement about property taxes, Persad-Bissessar said, "Property tax at this time is totally unacceptable."

She accused the Government of hiding TT's true unemployment statistics. She said approximately 100,000 people were unemployed before covid19, and charged that Imbert was misleading the population.

"He lies. He lies openly. His credibility is gone."

Describing the budget as another cut-and-paste exercise by Imbert, Persad-Bissessar wondered if all he did was take recommendations made by the Roadmap to Recovery Committee and throw them together to form a shopping list for the population to swallow.

The PNM has been trying to fool the population about its management of the economy, she said, and is acting "like it's business as usual."

In the current economic climate, Persad-Bissessar said, "Today we needed to see innovation and business unusual."


"Kamla: TT in a ‘twindemic’"

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