Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Trinis ‘living above means’


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PORT OF SPAIN – Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley yesterday reiterated his concern that Trinidad and Tobago nationals were “living well above our means” as the oil-rich twin island republic deals with an economic downturn occasioned by a decline in oil prices on the global market.

Rowley, speaking on television here, said that since coming to office last September, his administration has had to deal with the situation by reducing expenditure significantly.

“We have cut out the abuse of public resources, we have reduced public travelling even though we have to travel to conduct business . . . we have reduced the level of certain things and we are focused on ensuring that what we have is made available in the best way.

“We have serious debt issues and borrowing issues. You have seen us coming to the Parliament to lift the ceilings so that government can continue to borrow to fund,” he said, telling viewers that “given what has happened to us as a country we are currently living well above our means”.

He said the government’s policies were aimed at reducing and reversing the tight economic situation and he did not intend to “panic anybody . . . while not worsening the situation”.

Rowley again promised public servants that the billions of dollars in arrears owed to them as a result of the agreement signed with the last government prior to the September 7 general election could be paid, hopefully by the start of June.

He said that the TT$4.5 billion (BDS$1.4 billion) needed to pay the public servants had to be found, saying “when that decision was made to do that the money wasn’t there”.

“So we have to find that money to pay, but the government is also mindful that what we think is more important is not to ensure that we pay the back pay immediately but to make sure that the workers who receive that back pay do not lose their jobs in their process. It is a balancing act.” (CMC)


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