OROPOUCHE West MP Davendranath Tancoo is warning that Finance Minister Colm Imbert is digging this country into an economic sink hole so deep, generations to come will have to pay.
At the same time, he is pauperising citizens, as some 6,000 small and medium enterprises (SMEs) have gone out of business, Tancoo said at the United National Congress (UNC) Monday night Virtual Report.
“In addition to the withdrawal from the Heritage and Stabilisation Fund (HSF), this Government has borrowed from every possible source to prop its mismanagement, corruption and malfeasance.”
He said when the Rowley administration assumed office in 2015, the value of the HSF savings was US$5.7 billion or $37 billion saved over the life of the fund.
“In the last two fiscal years, this Government has withdrawn US$1.9 billion or TT$12 billion – that is one third of the value they found.
“The fact that this fund still has a significant saving has nothing to do with Imbert and Rowley, because they never put a cent in it. It is only because of a track record of sound investments since its inception years ago, that the fund has rebounded.
“Today the Central Government debt is $106 billion, the highest it has ever been. Government has borrowed billions, and made no investment in anything to generate money to repay this debt.
"When these debts become due, as they will, how in the world will Trinidad and Tobago repay? Will we have to give away our ports? WASA? TSTT? State land? Our souls?”
“This Government has been borrowing on the backs of the working class, and at the same time have been undermining the same group they need to pay taxes.”
The obvious result, he said is that under Imbert, Government’s revenue has been declining every year, as reflected in the downgrading by international agencies Moody’s and Standard and Poors,
“We cannot continue to do business as usual and we cannot continue to hope for oil and gas prices to go up, and for production to drastically skyrocket to pay the country’s daily bills or the runaway debt.
“The model has not worked. We need transformation.”
He said covid19 has offered an opportunity to do new things in new ways, but not a single policy decision during the pandemic has been focused on this need to transform.
“If they are following their roadmap to recovery, then they must be lost.
“With almost $300 billion spent in the last six years, and billions in loans and grant funding received from international agencies as a result of covid, there is no reason why our healthcare should be so poor, why our roads and drainage should be so bad. There is no reason why we should have such astronomical crime rates, so many unemployed or so many living in absolute poverty. There is no reason why our children should be without basic education or our agricultural and manufacturing sectors be in crisis.
“But while we suffer, PNM friends, family and financiers continue to receive from the Cabinet and laugh all the way to the banks. This must stop.”
Tancoo called for accountability and transparency, pointing to Imbert’s statement that over $5 billion had been spent on covid relief as at August 15, 2021, including the cost of vaccines.
“Five billion and we don’t even have 500 beds in ICU. Where was the money really spent, Mr Imbert? We need to know, because according to Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh, the amount of money spent by the Ministry of Health to deal with covid19 specifically was $480 million.”