Rowley tells his members …” I AM YOUR CAPTAIN”

Spread the word

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley reminded his party membership on Sunday that he was the captain of the ship.

But he said he was steering a ship that needs assistance because of the economic conditions at the moment.

Rowley said the way ahead for Trinidad and Tobago during these turbulent economic times is still littered with unpredictable roadblocks and uncertainties and in stormy times like these, the ship of State needs a steady hand.

“The PNM is that steady hand and I am your captain. The PNM are there to treat with all events, the good, the bad and the UNC.

Rowley said that now more than ever there was need for discipline and sacrifice in rebuilding the country’s economy after the reckless spending policies of the UNC after the cabal and associates who today cannot even be trusted by the founder of their party.

He pointed out that during this period of austerity and revenue shrinkage, there is need to reduce expenditure over time in a steady and systematic way, preserve as many jobs in the public sector, and encourage job creation in the private sector, and maintain expenditure on development program to create jobs while developing physical and economic infrastructure.

The others include re-establish growth in the economy, improve tax revenue collection, reduce subsidies, diversify the economy, reduce the consumption of foreign exchange, eliminate waste and corruption, and watch the public debt.

Within the plan which is being implemented within a financial management approach are the priorities which he listed in the order of health care delivery at number one, followed by education, national security, social services and public debt.

Giving a picture of the state of the economy which is still heavily dependent on the oil and gas sector, he said, profits in taxes from oil companies have declined from $25 billion in 2008 to “an unbelievable” $472 million in 2017, while royalties among other taxes dropped from $15 billion in 2010 to $2.1 billion in 2017.

While revenue decreased, he said, transfers and subsidies increased from $17 billion in 2007 to $27.8 billion in 2016.

He added, “That is the assignment handed to us in September 2015,” he said, and as such wisdom dictated that the budget be reduced from $62 billion in 2015 to a $50 billion budget this fiscal year. In spite of loss of revenues, he said, “official foreign reserves still stand at US$8.5 billion representing ten months of import cover. Unbelievable but true.”

Rowley said there was a progressive decline in unemployment. Government, he added, continues to monitor the unemployment situation and will continue to support maintenance of low end programs like the Unemployment Relief Program, CEPEP and OJT.

Other areas, he focused on were housing, an investment framework, the establishment of the Trinidad and Tobago Revenue Authority and the need for the collection of property taxes. TT is the only country in the world, he said, where there are no property taxes even though it is the law.

DR KEITH ROWLEY 

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