Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : September 14th 2013 Contents A11
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WE REMEMBER OUR FIRST MONTH OF BUSINESS 64 YEARS AGO
Opposition Leader Dr Keith
Rowley yesterday responded to
Finance Minister Larry Howai s
$61.3b budget presentation.
Howai unveiled the fiscal package
on Monday during a two-hour
speech. Rowley, whose response
has criticised the Government
for abandoning several projects
initiated under the PNM admin-
istration and announced a new
development plan, Vision 2030,
to take the country forward.
Today, we begin publishing his
In search of a government,
in need of a plan
Mr Speaker, let me begin by taking
this opportunity to welcome you back
from your trip to South Africa and
to formally acknowledge for the first
time all of the re-re-re-shuffled min-
isters. At an earlier time re-alignment
referred to rotating old worn tyres,
but in an effort to deceive, it now
means reshuffle but it still applies to
old worn tyres.
Among the data provided in the
Review of the Economy is information
which states that milk production
has gone up by 7.1 per cent.
It also states that honey production
has gone up by 36.4 per cent. Based
on these bare statistics alone, it is
possible to conclude that this is the
land of milk and honey.
The Government would love for
us to believe that especially when we
see that chicken production has gone
up by 92 per cent.
It matters not to them that the
price of chicken is $13 per lb, there s
a poultry shortage and the minister
is currently meeting with suppliers
trying to find out how to cope with
the problem, all the while hoping that
the population does not notice.
I tell you this, Mr Speaker, so that
you will appreciate that the real story
lies in the bigger picture which is
usually hidden from or misrepresent-
ed to you.
Mr Speaker, I have listened to this
budget presentation, the largest budg-
et in our nation s history, $61 bil-
lion---but when it ended there was
something very unsettling about it.
Mr Speaker the PNM spent in
As I recall the economy was buoy-
ant and healthy, optimism and con-
fidence was at a peak. I recall that
there was a harmonised choir of
UNC/COP singing a hymn, that the
PNM was spending too much, we
were overheating the economy and
forcing the private sector to compete
for goods and labour at prices that
only the Government could afford.
Mr Speaker, I want to point out
that in these years, on average, the
PNM spent, on average, $43 billion
per year. This Government has been
spending, on average, $53 billion per
year since its arrival in 2010.
Moreover, Mr Speaker, during the
previous PNM period, there were
patently visible signs of development
for all to see and benefit from, and
even to argue about.
The Hyatt Waterfront Hotel, which
they all so much love now, NAPA,
SAPA, the University of T&T (UTT),
a number of secondary schools,
industrial parks, flyovers, new roads,
these very waterfront towers in which
the Parliament is located and over
which there are ministerial dogfights
for executive office spaces and
reserved parking. Mr Speaker, there
were also major initiatives in crime
suppression ultimately eliminating
daily kidnappings for ransom.
We ordered, and paid for OPVs.
There was a SAUTT assisted by expe-
rienced Scotland Yard officers. There
was the introduction of Gate and a
series of training programmes aimed
at targeting and integrating youth
from all walks and educational levels
into the workforce, away from crime
and hopelessness and into a worth-
We introduced C-DAP and a range
of social support systems to benefit
the needy. The bus service was
expanded; the water taxi service was
introduced. The mass transit system
was taking shape.
Fast ferries were purchased and
operated, permanently changing the
connection between Trinidad and
Tobago. Twenty thousand housing
units were at various stages of con-
struction from start up to completion,
with new occupancies a daily occur-
Billions were spent developing
comprehensive infrastructure on
Caroni raw lands to convert them
into high-quality housing lots for for-
mer Caroni workers, as well as infra-
structure for allowing farming plots
to be accessed by beneficiaries who
were to become self-employed farm-
ers instead of employees of the State
dependent on the failed sugar estate.
That is what the taxpayer was getting
at $43 billion per year with the PNM.
At the same time the PNM was
being accused of profligacy and wild
spending and not saving enough of
our oil and gas windfall even as we
saved over $9 billion in the Heritage
and Stabilisation Fund and had an
additional $3 billion in the Central
Bank. The taxpayers, at $43 billion a
year, even when they disagreed with
some of the choices or the priorities,
had the ability to talk about specific
plans, projects and proposals that the
PNM was articulating and executing.
They were able to join in national
debate on the direction and progress
of the development agenda because,
Mr Speaker, we had one. Forty-three
billion dollars per year, Mr Speaker,
this is what the PNM was doing at
We have today the fourth budget
of this People s Partnership Govern-
ment, again, the largest in the nation s
history, at $60 billion.
Last year was also $60 billion (with
variations included) and the budget
before that was $54 billion, to total
$170 billion plus.
This is a Government that is
spending $13 billion every year, over
and above what the PNM did in the
years when the economy was over-
heating and there was supposed to
Now, Mr Speaker, let s think about
it: what you just heard was a small
part of what the PNM was doing
with $43 billion per year, but what
is this UNC coalition doing with $60
billion? What are we seeing?
What plans and projects could we
credibly point to? What are we getting
for this record-breaking expenditure,
which, incidentally, is accompanied
by record-breaking debt accumula-
What could we debate other than
to ask what have they done with our
$160 billion in 40 months?
That is, Mr Speaker, $4 billion per
month on a small nation of 1.3 million
people, yet there is so much unhap-
piness, cynicism and despair, largely
because our affairs are not being
How is it that they are spending
Rowley: Nothing to show for
$160 b in 40 months
Continues on Page A12
Opposition leader Dr Keith Rowley delivers his response to the budget in
parliament yesterday. PHOTO : MARCUS GONZALES
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