BY SHANE A. MOHAMMED
How does one describe a Government that chooses to terminate its Budget debate prematurely? This PNM administration is creating a poor and callous political precedence for our history books and every time they are taken to task, they seek a form of distraction as a way out of being caught. The budget presented by Minister Colm Imbert as I posited last week was visionless, transactional and lacking any form of innovation or transformation for our economy. It was a pre-General Election Budget but one they hope would give them a leap over the UNC in the upcoming Local Government elections.
What this Government fails to realise is that where the Opposition is limited because of the biasness of the Speaker, others within society have taken notice and taken up the mantle to take them to task. Several of our leading economists have weighed in on this lightweight budget and the many deficiencies that exist within it.
Additionally, a budget is not only an economic document but it forms part of the political system in which we exist and therefore the political scientists and analysts will have their say. In Budgets past, Minister Imbert has taken issue with the comments of regional economist Marla Dukharan, who in 2019, seems to have taken a silent approach to the budget because it could be a waste of brain cells to comment on something one can only describe as lacking economic electricity.
This year, however, Minister Imbert chose to pick a fight with the leading political scientist in Trinidad and Tobago, Head of the Department of Political Science at UWI St Augustine Dr. Bishnu Ragoonath; going so far as to insinuate that Dr. Ragoonath was politically biased. Unfortunately for Minister Imbert, Dr. Ragoonath is as apolitical as it gets especially in a country where something as simple as wearing a yellow or red jacket can become a political topic.
But what Minister Imbert’s real issue was that Dr. Ragoonath took him to task by revealing the “tricks” in the proposed increases in URP and CEPEP where the Minister proposes to increase salaries for those workers. However, as Dr. Ragoonath points out, there is an overall budgetary cut in the allocation of funds for each. What does this mean?
Increased salaries but lower overall allocations can only result in two possibilities Lower numbers of labourers or decreased working periods for labourers. It is for this issue that Colm Imbert needed to issue a press release that he believed would have “bouffed” Dr Ragoonath but unfortunately, Dr Ragoonath has said his piece and really does not care what Imbert says otherwise!
What Imbert presented was financial sewage
To make matters worse, the very day that Dr Ragoonath was commenting on Imbert’s URP and CEPEP “bamboozle”, The Leader of the Opposition Kamla Persad Bissessar was presenting her response to Imbert which in fact sounded more like a Budget Presentation than a response. What the Opposition Leader did was to floor the Government with a cataclysmic economic design that was holistic, comprehensive, innovative, transformational and progressive.
We heard actionable and identifiable initiatives that grasped the attention of all and caused us to want to hear more. From renewable energy advantages to plans to drive diversity, agriculture, economic growth and development.
She must be congratulated on her Knock Out (KO) presentation. To make matters worse however, every single member of the Opposition who spoke provided the country with a reason why the PNM is such a waste of a vote and a travesty of a Government.
But then when one thinks the dust is clear, Samurai Roodal Moonilal enters into the ring and delivers such severe blows and bombshells that the Government is not only unable to respond but the Prime Minister and Minister of National Security opted not to defend their budget nor the allegations made by Samurai Moonilal. I guess when the truth slaps you across the face unexpectedly the only option is to
So, friends, right off my last article “Budget 2020: Ready to Flush”, it is clear that whilst the Budget will pass with a simple majority, the fact remains that the UNC and other eminent contributors of our society have proven that what Imbert presented to us was really financial sewage. The Government is aimless, hopeless, and increasingly proving to us that they must be flushed out in 2020. I am pleased to hear what Mrs Persad Bissessar has presented.
The document is worthy of us reading more of it to fully understand the details of the presentation. But from just listening to her it is exactly what we need to progress beyond 2020. It is clear that with such enlightened plans and equally resilient team she will be deserving of winning in 2020.