(T&TGuardian)The Opposition, United National Congress, believes the 2023 Budget should address jobs, fresh policy initiatives to deal with crime and ensure water is delivered to the public. But the UNC does not really expect to see that happen, says UNC deputy political leader Dr Roodal Moonilal.
Speaking at yesterday’s Opposition media briefing in Port-of-Spain, Moonilal said he expected Finance Minister Colm Imbert would come as usual and “beat his chest” boasting of achievements. But noting T&T’s problems of crime, infrastructure, utilities, and joblessness, Moonilal said, “Any serious Government would have a strategic programme to create jobs. T&T has a crisis of joblessness—they must have a programme to address this and construction for instance is a key sector of the economy.”
“You also expect a decent Government to have some renewed focus, fresh policy initiatives to deal with the criminal element. We may want that, but quite frankly we don’t expect that. All they will do is beat the table when they announce how much billions for this and that and nothing will happen because they are dangerously incompetent,” Moonilal added.
“This Government believes that management ends with managers. So if we don’t have water, they say ‘is WASA management’; no security—‘is the police’. But management goes to the top and the PNM doesn’t want the people to know there’s political management. But ministers believe their role is to cut ribbon, make speech and guzzle whiskey,” he said, noting they were playing cards and “kicksing” at the recent Cabinet retreat.
Moonilal said even if the National Security Ministry gets top dollars in the Budget, it would not solve the crime problem.
“The solution is you need to remove Mr Hinds … there’s no advice you can give Fitzgerald Hinds since he’s struck the political iceberg,” he said.
Moonilal said the Opposition will be out in full force with robust contributions for the upcoming Budget debate and Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar will deliver a full comprehensive response to the Government’s Budget. Opposition contributions will include the NIB’s (National Insurance Board) problems and other issues.
He said the UNC’s Budget consultations have yielded concerns with monotonous frequency on crime, water, infrastructure, drainage, flooding, healthcare, lack of essential drugs and schools 95 per cent completed and languishing.
Moonilal said Energy Minister Stuart Young should have reported to the country on the Dragon Field deal instead of citizens having to get the information from Bloomberg, that the gas obtained would be used in Europe rather than in T&T.
On the recent judgment against the Financial Intelligence Unit, Moonilal projected that 17 other people and 30 organisations would sue the FIU and this could cost taxpayers an estimated $25 million. He warned that people might sue banks too. Moonilal said the report of an alleged probe at VMCOTT of a chairman and CEO should have been done by the Finance Ministry’s audit unit, Fraud Squad or Integrity Commission. Guardian Media reported in August that the TTPS, Integrity Commission and the Ministry of Works and Transport are all probing the company.
Minister Hinds did not immediately respond to Guardian Media’s queries regarding Moonilal’s statements.