Suruj: The Government Cannot be Trusted – More Job Cuts to Come
MP for Tabaquite Surujrattan Rambachan has noted that the greatest threat to the social stability of the country and its competitiveness has come about because of the energy insecurity created by the decision to close the refinery and import fuel.
With the government bent on cutting expenditure and reducing transfers and subsidies it is inevitable that prices of fuel will vary with international prices for oil. The effect of this upon transport and manufacturing will see our competitiveness being affected especially in an economy that is import dependent for its raw materials.
It is also becoming clear that the fate of Petrotrin will eventually be extended to other public utilities especially WASA where the Minister of Public Utilities has already noted that WASA is over staffed by up to 2000 persons. The Prime Minister in response to a question from Dr Rambachan indicated that contractors were being hired to do work which should be performed by WASA employees and that those contractors will now be terminated. Job losses are therefore on the horizon. Wasa is subsided at an average of 2 billion per year. Dr Rambachan has noted that the government cannot be trusted when it says that there are no plans to retrench WASA workers. He reminds that up to a few weeks ago there were also No Plans to close down Petrotrin.
The budget coming two years before the next election and one year before a local government election may well be deceptive giving false hope to the country. It is hoped that the Minister of Finance will present policies for economic expansion, employment generation and diversification.
It is distressing that policies announced in the last budget to stimulate housing and construction have remained still born because of the recalcitrance of the Minister of Planning to be amend policies at the Town and Country Planning. This has kept smaller developers of housing and land out of the picture and have affected the ability of persons with incomes below 6000 per month from becoming owners of at least an apartment.
Dr Rambachan has urged the Minister of Finance not to impose new taxes on an already tax overburdened nation and to be careful That his policies do not further create higher levels of poverty and economic marginalization. He urged the Minister to seek to encourage import substitution type enterprises and to critically review the performance of those state companies charged with marketing tourism and other exports out of TT. He suggests that they have been underperforming and are a drain on valuable resources.