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Suruj asks Rowley: What will you do?

SURUJ SPEAKOPPOSITION Leader Dr Keith Rowley was yesterday challenged by Works and Infrastructure Minister Dr Suruj Rambachan, to tell the country which projects the People’s National Movement (PNM) would cut if it were faced with falling oil and gas prices.

“Tell us what you’re going to do because it seems to me you (Rowley) are talking about cut-backs, you’re talking about being stern with the people in the country. It seems to me that you want to bring pressure to bear on the people of Trinidad and Tobago,” Rambachan said. Rambachan was at the time speaking in the House of Representatives, Wrightson Road, Port-of-Spain yesterday afternoon when he ‘turned the tables’ on the PNM and asked which of several major projects and social programmes they would cut under the current circumstances.

“Are you going to tell me that, if in a situation like this, you’re going to close down the Oncology Centre that’s being built that you (PNM) couldn’t build for so many years?…Were you going to cut the Children’s Hospital project?”

“They talked about the highway to Point Fortin,” Rambachan added. “Tell us, if you are in this situation, are you going to stop the highway to Point Fortin? Tell us whether you’re going to stop it. Tell us whether you’re going to stop it!”

Speaking in an impassioned manner, the Works and Infrastructure Minister told Rowley, “Don’t just stand up there and make all kinds of statements. You tell us what plan you would have had!

We (Government) have a plan and we know that our plan is going to work because we have been there and we have done well in the past and we’re going to do well with the situation that confronts us.”

A rebuttal came from Diego Martin North/East MP and long-serving PNM member, Colm Imbert, who said, “The Minister of Works screaming at us, ‘What the PNM go do?’” before reminding Rambachan that the PNM “not in government.”

“They in government, they cutting the expenditure by $4.5 billion. What are they doing Mr Speaker? Where will these cuts take place?” Imbert asked.

“It’s for them to tell us what they’re going to cut, not for us. We are not running the country. They are Mr Speaker. That was what was so disappointing about the PM’s presentation last night; you say you’re going to cut expenditure by $4.5 billion, where are you going to cut it? We want to know. We want to know. We want to know.”

Imbert also criticised the People’s Partnership administration for not adjusting the fuel subsidy to reflect the drop in oil prices.

“The price of gas in Kingston, Jamaica is less than in TT…because they have pegged the price of gasoline, like any responsible democracy would do, they have pegged it to the ex-refinery price based on the oil price and the refined product, so that the population receives the benefit of lower oil prices.”

“Why are motorists in Trinidad and Tobago paying $5.75 a litre for premium gasoline when the true price is $4.39? That is not a subsidy. That is a tax…It gives you an idea of the ‘vaps’ approach of this Government to governing this country. There is no subsidy on premium gas anymore but did we hear the PM talk about that? No. PM tell us they go save a $1 billion. They’re not going to save, they’re going to tax the citizens of this country in terms of the price of gasoline,” Imbert claimed.

NEWSDAY 

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