Local companies assisted Venezuela …”NOT PAID”

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Two years ago, the local manufacturing sector was asked to sell goods to Venezuela to ease the pressure on their people.

But to date, these companies have not been paid, despite a guarantee by this Government.

According to UNC MP David Lee, the 2016 trade deal between Trinidad and Tobago and Venezuela was bad business for some local manufacturers who have not yet been paid for goods which had been delivered to the South American nation.

Lee said the recent public statements by the TTMA have indicated that “some manufacturers have not yet been paid for goods delivered to Venezuela which formed part of a trade deal fostered between the governments of our nation and Venezuela in 2016.”

He said this is not only proof of government’s “failed commitment” to the manufacturing sector but also “signs of a government which continues to abandon its responsibility of protecting our nation’s economic framework.”

“We in the Opposition were always concerned with this agreement given the economic hardship being experienced by the Venezuelan Government as well as this Government’s track-record of  incompetence.”

Lee said several questions had been directed to the Trade and Industry Minister Paula Gopee-Scoon in the Parliament but she had “on each occasion would respond by saying that some payments were still being received for shipped goods.

He added, “It is therefore unacceptable and irresponsible that over one year since these questions were first posed and over two years since goods were first shipped to Venezuela manufacturers have not been adequately compensated.”

He said the trade deal was a “government to government initiative” and questions have to be asked why the minister failed to take a trade delegation to Venezuela to address the issue.

Lee asked, “Did Government, knowing that Venezuela would not be able to keep its financial commitment just use our manufacturers as a bargaining tool to gain access to Venezuelan natural gas?

“They called the Opposition Members unpatriotic when we questioned these deals however the issues presently surrounding these non-payments demonstrate why the Opposition did so.

“Therefore our nation must remain vigilante and find no comfort in the signing of the Dragon Gas Deal which took place yesterday in Venezuela as this could be all about Public relations and political gimmicks as was seen with this trade deal.”

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DAVID LEE

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