OILFIELDS Workers’ Trade Union (OWTU) president general Ancel Roget is calling on people to "wake up" and stop taking abuse from this Government.
The call came Tuesday during a press conference at which he demanded government “halt any plan to increase fuel costs" by way of scrapping the decades-old fuel subsidy, a move he said will only further burden the population.
Speaking at the union's Paramount Building headquarters in San Fernando, he accused Energy Minister Stuart Young of spewing "paradoxical bs.”
In the 2020 budget presentation, Finance Minister Colm Imbert announced the decision to liberalise the fuel market and remove all subsidies by January 2021, leaving prices at the pump subjected to market forces.
In June, Imbert said government must reduce the country's long-standing dependence on billion-dollar subsidies not only on fuel but other commodities like water and electricity in order to close the gap between expenditure and revenue, and balance the national budget.
Roget said the government had the population like “lambs to slaughter,” and tricked the nation into believing if the Opposition was in power, things would be worse.
“Anything is better than what now exists under this PNM government,” he declared.
“The pandemic hit the world, TT included, the country has been locked down for over a year now at different periods of time at different levels, we are in a state of emergency with a curfew imposed. The country is literally held to ransom and in this time the government finds it appropriate to unleash more pressure on the population.”
Roget referred to a Newsday article published on Saturday titled, Young: Government to protect drivers from costly gasoline.
In Parliament on Friday, Young said the new policy removes fixed retail margins, such as in the US and UK.
"We are allowing at the pumps the retailers to move their prices. That is only going to be allowed once per month, at the beginning of the month.
"The Ministry of Energy will put out circulars saying these are the prices and the ranges within which fuel can be sold at the pump with respect to super, premium and diesel,” he said. He said the existing prices of LPG and CNG would be maintained.
In response to this, Roget asked, “How increasing the cost of gasoline, where I would have to pay more at the pump that I now pay, will protect me from that? What paradoxical bs is that?”
“So he compares TT with the UK and the US and does not tell you the stimulus packages these countries have for their people coming out of the pandemic."
He said food prices and taxi fares will increase when the fuel subsidy ends regardless of if government says otherwise.
“At a time where hundreds of thousands of people have lost their jobs, people have seen reduction in their real income in two ways: in terms of the increased cost of living and a direct reduction, people are actually suffering daily and on top of all of that now, in a most callous way, they are going to increase fuel prices.
Roget said he could not believe there are people “actually so heartless,” adding that the government dismisses the media and the Opposition anytime questions are asked about issues that affect the wider population.
“Their salary is not touched at all. They are in a place where they cannot feel sympathy…We are in a pandemic situation man! People are suffering, people can hardly put food on the table.
“I empathise with you members of the media because he (the Prime Minister) can’t do us that. The Prime Minister dare not talk down to us like that. But you who have a responsibility to ask questions, you are treated like (you are) nothing.”
He warned that if the public does not take government to task on the fuel subsidy immediately, “There would come a time where we would be faced with the two saddest words in the English language, 'too late.'
“If there was ever a time they are showing their insensitivity, showing their fangs of heartlessness, putting burden on the people, they are doing that right now.