Rambachan: $15 million Labour Movement payback?
Former Minister of Works and Infrastructure, Dr Surujrattan Rambachan, yesterday questioned whether the $15 million allocation to the Labour Movement as outlined by Finance Minister Colm Imbert in his 2015-2016 budget presentation on Monday, was payback for support in the September 7 general election.
That was among several questions raised by Rambachan on the PNM Government’s budget presentation.
Imbert noted that Government will allocate $15 million in 2016 to assist the Labour Movement in building capacity and for providing technical and training support. The assistance, he said, would be divided between the Joint Trade Union Movement (JTUM) and the National Trade Union Centre (NATUC).
Rambachan listed several questions in a Facebook post on Tuesday.
He asked, “Did you read that the PNM is giving 15 million to Natuc and JTUM. Is this a payback? I am just asking.”
He asked whether the PNM budget presentation gave citizens the assurance that the new Government has a clear vision for Trinidad and Tobago and where they were headed in the next two years.
Rambachan explained that the reduction of Value Added Tax (VAT) from 15 per cent to 12.5 per cent meant that citizens would now be paying VAT on food items which were listed as zero rated. And he asked citizens their thoughts on the return of property taxes, even at the old rates. He questioned whether citizens believed property taxes would remain at the old rates.
Rambhacan noted that the 15 per cent increase in super gasoline and diesel would result in a rise in the cost of transportation and ultimately cost of living will also increase. And he suggested that the number of On-The-Job trainees would reduce as Government intends to increase their salary by 20 per cent.
Rambachan asked, “Do you know that the PNM although they are saying more resources for Local Government will be made available have actually cut the development budget for Local Government by $53 million compared to last fiscal year? Do you know that the funding for Rural Development and Local Government under the Infrastructure Development Fund has been cut?”
He said the recurrent expenditure for Local Government was cut by $92 million, which can suggest that there will be job cuts. He questioned whether short term employment will be cut or drastically reduced.
“Do you know that though the Government is crying out that the Peoples Partnership had an overdraft that the PNM has received about $13.4 billion in cash from extra ordinary dividends to start up its period of governance? Would you like to ask them how they intend to use this windfall of $13.4 billion?” he asked.
Rambchan questioned whether complaints by the PNM that there was a $5 billion debt to settle salary increases to workers meant that the PNM Government would not have approved the wage increases.
JTUM has called an emergency meeting today to discuss the $15 million allocaiton and intends addressing the media on the issue.Share on Facebook