MAYARO MP Rushton Paray compared life in Trinidad and Tobago today to life in the 1980's under the former PNM political leader and prime minister, George Chambers.
He cited a lack of water, bad roads, neglect of the agriculture industry, homelessness and hunger at the UNC's "True Talk" virtual public meeting.
“The economy is in its worse state since the 1980s when the PNM regime mismanaged the economy and George Chambers inflicted all kinds of cruel taxes on the people of TT.
"That led to thousands of workers losing their jobs, homes; being unable to buy food and school books; to pay their rent and car loans.”
Austerity measures implemented by Chambers in his tenure as prime minister included a ten per cent pay cut to public servants; reduction to subsidiaries to public utilities, including water, electricity, bus fares and telephone services; the elimination of personal income tax relief and allowances; the abolition of tax-free bonds, credit union shares; and a requirement of students at the UWI to pay 10 per cent of their tuition costs for the two years, when previously they did not have to pay. It led to one of the worst defeats at the polls in PNM's history and Chambers stepping down as political leader.
Paray said those “bad days” have returned.
“You can feel it in the country,” he said. There is a mood of frustration of depression and distress and with the latest lockdown of the economy, the conditions will get worse.”
“When the Finance Minister has to borrow $1 million a month to pay salaries and wages that is a signal that we are broke.”
He also knocked the Government for their lack of support of small and medium businesses. He said in 2015, when the UNC was voted out of power, the sector had 20,000 businesses which employed over 200,000 workers.
“Today, businesses are falling like flies and they are being forced to send home workers,” Paray said.