Trinidad and Tobago: Over the last 15 months, the country has been repeatedly told by Government Ministers that the country was being crippled by the effects of Covid-19.
UNC stated, The government has borrowed billions of dollars both locally and internationally; withdrawn billions more from the Heritage and Stabilisation Fund, received even more billions in COVID aid, including the receipt of TT$165 million from the IADB last week. The government has claimed to have spent billions allegedly in social sector support, all in the name of Covid.
Recently, the Minister of Finance Colm Imbert was at pains to highlight that Government was forced to engage in further borrowing and to draw yet again from the HSF because he was unable to meet outstanding debt obligations to suppliers, contractors, and financial institutions due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on our country.
Furthermore, UNC added, Our citizens have repeatedly been told that the country is in crisis as thousands of citizens have been pushed into poverty, hundreds of businesses have closed, schools have been closed for a year, access to health care is challenged despite the claim by the Minister of Health of a parallel health system and thousands of our citizens have been abandoned abroad by the Government.
Moreover, We have been told repeatedly that Government Revenues have dwindled, and further, significant cuts have occurred in Government expenditure in the last fiscal year. Our country is now struggling under the highest levels of debt that we have ever experienced, with the worse foreign exchange shortages in our history.
Every sector in this country, every state enterprise, and Ministry have experienced an inability to pay suppliers because of a shortage in allocations, with the Minister of Finance freely claiming that the country is in a crisis as a result of the global pandemic.
With food shortages and rising prices looming, the visible collapse of every sector, and a worsening of the status of living and quality of life of the majority of citizens, this Government has been unanimous and emphatic in blaming COVID-19 for our current depressing state of affairs.
According to MP Davendranath Tancoo, “Either Minister Deyalsingh is lying today, or he and the rest of the Government were lying over the last 15 months in their claims that the country was in crisis due to the corona pandemic. Worse, 139 citizens have died officially from COVID-19, with an estimated 7,700 confirmed cases. Thousands of others have lost their jobs, and many have become impoverished. In these circumstances, it is disgusting that the Minister’s focus is on the use of the word “reeling”?
We had had so many convoluted stories from the Minister of Health and his team about this virus and so many different stories about when vaccines were requested and when vaccines will actually be available.
The fact is that a factual number of countries in the Caribbean have already accessed vaccines from India and are already vaccinating large sections of their population.
The Minister of Health was even publicly clueless about 2,000 doses donated by the Government of Barbados from their own allocations from the Government of India, forcing Minister Deyalsingh to have to apologize for misleading the population and embarrassing himself.
While the rest of the Caribbean forges ahead, Minister Deyalsingh and his Government sit playing word games, attacking the Honourable Leader of the Opposition for doing what they failed to do, and what several CARICOM countries did many weeks ago: to ask the Government of India for help save lives.
I join with the rest of the right-thinking citizens of Trinidad and Tobago in hoping that Mrs. Persad Bissessar’s humble request finds favor with Indian Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi-Ji and that all our people can have access to the protection of vaccines soon.”