How sincere was the apology from Minister of Finance Minister Colm Imbert?
He came to the House of Representatives on Wednesday and “unreservedly apologised” to the country for his controversial statements on the zero/zero/zero wage offer and on the gas price increases which he made at an International Monetary Fund (IMF) forum last Wednesday. But his apology came with his usual boyish smirk on his face.
The statements he made last week provoked widespread condemnation.
Piloting the debate on the Provisional Collection of Taxes Order in the House of Representatives yesterday, Imbert stated: “During that conference I made certain statements and, on reflection, having reviewed and looked at the tape of the comments that I made, and the manner in which I made them, I realise that this would have upset a lot of people and therefore I take this opportunity to unreservedly apologise to all.”
His statement provoked thunderous desk-thumping from both sides of the House because it came from a man not known for humility.
The table-thumping was not unbearably loud or disturbing, but House Speaker Bridgid Annisette-George rose to say that if desk-thumping is excessively noisy or sustained she could consider it to be “disorderly”.
Speaking at the IMF forum last Wednesday, Imbert indicated that he had told the public sector trade unions that the Government was offering zero/zero/zero for the negotiating period 2017 to 2020. He also stated that after three increases in the gas price in the last year, “they (the population) had not rioted yet” and he was, therefore, thinking of a further increase at the mid-year budgetary review in April 2017.
Imbert had been censored by Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley publicly as well as, it is understood, at the level of the Cabinet.
The unions had called for an apology and there were other editorials and commentaries on the subject.