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Kamla slams Rowley recovery plans

Published: 
Thursday, December 31, 2015

The Governemnt’s intention to split and utilise a portion of the multi-billion Heritage and Stabilsation Fund is a cause for concern to the Opposition. 

In a statement yesterday Opposition leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar picked apart Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley’s Tuesday night address to the nation and said that it was evidence that  the Government does not have an economic plan.

“The use of the Heritage and Stabilisation Fund creates more anxiety and questions. If Dr Rowley intends to withdraw US$1.5 billion he must immediately explain how he will use this to achieve stabilisation and a balance in expenditure and revenue and how he will meet requirements for utmost transparency and scrutiny,” she said.

She said Rowley needed to give the country the assurance that funds from savings will not be used for consumption, but for investment spending and creating value within the economy. 

The former prime minister said Rowley’s speech did nothing more than “exacerbate anxiety and instability”as he failed to address how he intends to fix the ongoing shortage of foreign exchange.  She said her government was operating in a time of low energy prices and had already outlined several plans to reduce government spending.

Persad-Bissessar said that Rowley demonstrated that he “has no understanding or idea of how to manage the present economic challenges”.

“We were clear and specific that budget adjustments would focus on maintaining a healthy level of investment and protecting jobs, incomes and the vulnerable,” she said.

She said since taking office in September, Rowley and Minister of Finance, Colm Imbert used “every possible opportunity to complain and misinform the public on the nation’s finances” adding that neither seemed “ready or able” to take the reigns. 

Persad-Bissessar sought to make political hay of Rowley’s trip to Miami to attend a private wedding, his fourth abroad since taking office four months ago.

“The Prime Minister must stop the campaigning, and the joy-riding and take responsibility for Trinidad & Tobago... three of these four trips have been for personal business – a PNM fundraiser in London, a wedding and golf in Barbados, and now a wedding in Miami. By the time Dr Rowley returns on 4th January, he would have served 117 days in Government and spent almost an entire month (24 days) travelling abroad to secure his personal interests,” she said.

“He made absolutely no clear and cogent reference to fiscal strategy or policy. The private sector needs to know what the Government’s development agenda and plans are if they are to align their strategic plans to the direction intended by the State,” she said.

She challenged the Prime Minister’s claim that the previous government did not decrease expenditure in the face of the falling energy prices.

“ The 2015 Budget by the People’s Partnership Government had originally projected operating expenditure of $60.1 Billion. The Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure 2016 showed that the revised estimates of expenditure for 2015 was $55.6 Billion, a reduction of almost $5 Billion,” she said.

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