Saturday 21 September, 2019

Don't be fooled by political carrot sticks, Indarsingh warns

Opposition MP Rudranath Indarsingh is urging the population against being fooled by promises from the ruling People's National Movement (PNM) as Local Government and General Elections draw near.

Indarsingh, the Opposition's Shadow Minister for Labour and Enterprise Development said Petrotrin workers in particular should be wary of the promise of lands for agricultural and residential purposes.

The incentive was announced in the Mid-Year Budget Review presented by Finance Minister Colm Imbert on Monday.

Referring to the Government as "Promises Never Materialise" the Opposition MP claimed that almost all of the promises made by Prime minister Dr Keith Rowley have been either broken or abandoned.

Indarsingh cited contraction in the economy in the last four years, job losses, the failed Tobago Sandals deal and the Dragon Gas Deal as examples. 

"The PNM's track record on their promises of delivery of lands to workers have been abysmal and a colossal failure," he said.

Below is the full statement from the Opposition MP:

Member of Parliament, Couva South, The Hon. Rudranath Indarsingh is today warning former Petrotrin workers to be very weary of the promise of lands for agricultural and residential purposes from Prime Minister Keith Rowley and Agriculture Minister Clarence Rambharat.

Indarsingh said the Rowley-led PNM Administration cannot be trusted based on its continued failure of being unable to deliver any of the promises made to workers and Trade Unions through the Memorandum of Understanding they signed with the Labour Movement prior to the September 2015 General Elections and what was promised in their Manifesto.

Nearly all of Rowley’s promises to the electorate have been broken and, in many instances, outright abandoned.

The PNM, he reiterated, really and truly stands for “Promised Never Materialise!”
The PNM PROMISED meaningful and active representation by the Labour Movement in the decision-making process at all levels; they PROMISED to tackle youth criminality head-on; they PROMISED that the Government Assistance for Tuition Expenses (GATE) system remains relevant, easily accessible, and available to all citizens who need it; they PROMISED to reduce VAT to 12.5% to provide much-needed relief to consumers and lower the cost of living; they PROMISED a need for restoration of public confidence before the Integrity Commission can go forward (and none other than PM Rowley has openly declare a lack of confidence in the IC); they PROMISED there will be a robust growth of the economy… under Rowley’s leadership, the size of the economy is 10% smaller than it was in 2014.

They have been unable to deliver the Mega Sandals Hotel Deal for Tobago and the Dragon Gas Deal is dead.

The Rowley-led PNM has delivered… 50,000-plus job losses; a collapse of the economy, THE Health and Education sectors, crime is spiralling out of control and they have brutalised the working class with increases in the price of gas and diesel and 7% on line tax as examples.

Indarsingh said that the PNM’s track record on their promises of delivery of lands to workers have been abysmal and a colossal failure.

Indarsingh citied the agreement which was another failed promise of lands to the former workers of Caroni Limited and reminded the former Petrotrin workers that the Patrick Manning-led PNM Administration (2002-2010) did not deliver any residential lots. He further stated that out of the 12000 agricultural plots promised, only 115 agricultural plots were actually delivered.

Indarsingh, a former President of the All Trinidad Sugar and General Workers’ Trade Union (ATSGWTU) reminded the workers that the Manning-led PNM Administration deliberately undermined the registered agreement it had with the ATSGWTU at the Industrial Court and failed to honour it.

He said that when ATSGWTU took the Manning-led PNM Administration to Court for non-implementation of the land distribution agreement, Justice Lennox Deyalsingh ruled in favour of the former workers and the Union. The State appealed Deyalsingh’s judgement all the way to the Privy Council.

Indarsingh reminded the workers and the Trade Union Movement that it was Prime Minister Kamla Persad Bissessar who instructed the then Attorney General to withdraw the Privy Council Appeal and under her Administration, the infrastructural development works on the lands for residential and agricultural purposes were restarted.

It was under the Persad Bissessar-led Administration that the distribution of over 5,000 agricultural plots and over 3,000 residential sites commenced and was in progress when the Partnership demitted office in September 2015.

It was then Prime Minister Kamla Persad Bissessar who instructed that all former Caroni workers were to be reimbursed for the $55 Million dollars of charges which were unilaterally imposed on the ex-workers for residential sites by the Manning Cabinet.

Today, Indarsingh said that there are concerns from former Caroni workers that this current Administration plans to seize the sites already developed.

The Couva South MP cites these reasons and examples why the PNM cannot be trusted.

He said that PM Rowley did not elaborate on how many workers would be entitled, how much lands would be developed, what will be the terms and conditions that the former workers be subjected to, will there any legal agreement which will bind the state to ensure that the former workers and their families will benefit with the passage of time, what will be the cost to the taxpayers etc. since he knew that this was a promise… which can be easily broken and abandoned.

Indarsingh said the Prime Minister must stop dangling political carrot sticks to the very vulnerable former workers of Petrotrin against the backdrop of impending Local and General Elections.

He said that if Rowley is indeed serious, he must ensure that severance packages of the remaining 25% of the former Petrotrin workers are settled. He must ensure their medical and pension plans of the all the former workers are fully honoured and funded; the severance entitlements of temporary workers are paid and all entitlements and allowances under all the bargaining units at the Company which were agreed to before the closure of Petrotrin must be honoured and financially settled.

However, the PNM’s track record does not give Indarsingh the confidence to believe that they will not, once again, betray the working class and the labour movement and that is why the former Petrotrin workers cannot trust their announcements.

Indarsingh said that the Prime Minister should move to fully settle the promises made to former Caroni workers and then move on to Petrotrin.

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