So Colm Imbert, a civil engineer, is picking a fight with five economists! This is a fight he cannot win because it is already out there that he frustrated Dr Terrance Farrell to the point that Farrell walked away from the Economic Advisory Board which eventually collapsed.
After presenting his mid-year Budget review on Thursday, Imbert’s presentation were criticized by the economists, who know much better than the civil engineer who is heading the Ministry of Finance.
Now the economists have hit back. They are concerned about Imbert’s attack on their credibility.
Imbert was critical of Dr Roger Hosein, Indera Sagewan-Alli, Mariano Browne, Marla Dukharan, and Dr Patrick Watson.
Hosein questioned how Imbert could associate any one of them with the United National Congress (UNC).
He added, “For myself, I was one of the harshest critics of the UNC as concerns GATE and CEPEP.
Does this make me PNM?” he asked. Hosein said he presented at a recent Spotlight on the Economy hosted by the Government. “Does this make me PNM?”
He said he has been commenting on the economy since 2008. Hosein said he had received two small contracts under the People’s Partnership government, and Imbert’s claims that these were multi-million-dollar contracts were wrong.
Hosein added, “What I do have an interest in is the integrity of the numbers that the Minister of Finance raised.”
Sagewan-Alli said Imbert’s harsh criticism meant she is doing something right. She said she hasbeen criticized by both PNM and UNC governments for her views on the economy, and described Imbert as a coward for attacking her credibility under the protection of parliamentary privilege. She said if Imbert was branding her as biased, then he should do the same with the IMF and Standard and Poors (S&P).
She described Imbert as a magician for presenting the figures he did. Sagewan-Alli welcomed the opportunity to speak with Imbert about the low-hanging fruit and fruit that is dragging on the ground, to strengthen this sector.
Browne rejected Imbert’s claim that he was trying to prevent Government from retrieving $23 billion used in the Clico bailout. He recalled criticizing the PNM and UNC for the very unprofessional way they handled this matter. Browne also reminded Imbert: “Numbers don’t tell a lie.”
WHAT IMBERT SAID
Imbert said the Opposition and critics of government’s efforts to strengthen the economy were part of a group of people in this country who just talk out of a hat.
Imbert shouted to the Opposition in Parliament, “Come better than that. Come with somebody better than that!
“I gave actual figures.”
Imbert said the Opposition and other people are still asking him, “Where you get your figures from?”
He identified Hosein, Sagewan-Alli and Browne as references cited by Opposition MPs in their contributions. Imbert also referred to Watson Dukharan. He claimed none of these people were unbiased.
Imbert said Hosein was the beneficiary of multi-million-dollar contracts under the People’s Partnership Government.
He said Sagewan-Alli was an Opposition MP, when he was a minister in the Patrick Manning administration. He said Browne surfaced on the other side, working against the Government, trying to prevent taxpayers from getting back $23 billion put into the (Clico) bailout.
Imbert described Dukharan as someone trying to peddle crypto-currency in this country. He cited Watson as another person regarded as an economist.
DR PATRICK WATSON