Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : December 5th 2015 Contents A6
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Saturday, December 5, 2015
A blueprint for chaos on the
That is how former planning
minister Dr Bhoe Tewarie
described actions being taken by
He was making his contribution
to the debate in the Lower House
yesterday on a motion on the
Increase of Loans Ceiling under
the Development Loans Act,
through which the Government
is seeking to borrow $50 billion.
Tewarie said chaos might very
well be on the horizon because
what the Government was saying
was different from what it was
"The gap between what the
Government is saying and doing
will make people very uncom-
"You are saying no one will lose
their jobs but thousands were ter-
minated in the last three months
and more are coming.
"You are saying you are con-
sulting with the trade unions but
there are unilateral wage freezes
at the National Gas Company.
"How long will the $15 million
inducement to the unions guar-
antee the good will you now
enjoy?" he asked.
Referring to the expected intro-
duction of VAT on zero-rated
items in January, Tewarie asked
if it was not the unemployed,
underemployed, working and
middle classes who would have
to fund this source of revenue for
He said Central Bank Governor
Jwala Rambarran disclosed yes-
terday that food inflation would
rise to double digits, a significant
portion of it VAT induced.
Tewarie said the Government
had brought the economy to a
"The construction sector has
gone into decline," he said, adding
that hundreds of construction
workers have been sent home.
The burning question about the
$50 billion the Government was
seeking to borrow was, "Why so
much money?" he asked.
"This is the question for us on
this side, not so much that you
came to ask for an increase in the
"Why so much at the beginning
of your term? This is the equiv-
alent of one year s budget.
"You can t expect the Opposi-
tion to give the Government sup-
port carte blanche to borrow so
"You want to tell the public of
our sins by the way you are
organising your narrative but why
so much, what are you spending
it on and how are you going to
pay for it?
"We don t know your debt
management and debt repayment
strategy. Why do you need almost
71 per cent more fiscal space than
you already have?"
Tewarie said monies owed con-
tractors was nowhere near $50
billion and he suspected some of
the money they were hoping to
borrow would have to do with
development projects, making
mention of the government s pro-
posed rapid rail project.
Tewarie asked whether govern-
ment s strategy was to drive state
development and stimulate the
economy through borrowing.
"I think this will be the wrong
strategy," he said.
He said the challenges facing
the economy could not be solved
by borrowing, austerity measures,
taking an IMF prescription and
raising taxes alone.
He said when he left the Plan-
ning Ministry, he left a ten-year
plan for the country which public
servants were working on.
Tewarie asked the Speaker for
an amendment to the motion
which, in essence, asks that no
more public procurement be facil-
itated until related legislation
comes fully into effect.
Bhoe to Govt: Why $50b?
Opposition leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar speaks to MPs Dr Bhoe Tewarie, centre, and Suruj Rambachan during
yesterday's sitting of Parliament. PHOTO: ABRAHAM DIAZ
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