The closure of three State companies reflects the continuing failure of the Government to grow the economy, Couva South MP Rudy Indarsingh said on Friday.
Indarsingh was commenting on the decision by the Government to dissolve the Tourism Development Company and to shut down Caroni Green Ltd and Government Human Resource Services Company Ltd (GHRS).
Indarsingh said the Government’s economic policies were leading to job instability, rather than job creation. He said thousands of workers have lost their jobs since September 2015, when the People’s National Movement (PNM) administration came into office.
“It is an indication that the Government of Keith Rowley has deceived workers and trade unions through the PNM manifesto and the memorandum of understanding signed with JTUM (Joint Trade Union Movement), in which it had committed itself to the preservation of jobs and economic growth,” he stated.
“The closure of these companies represents the ongoing assault on the jobs of workers of the country.”
Furthermore, he said, while the Government had boasted about promoting tripartism and social dialogue, it was taking these decisions without consultation.
“The dignity and respect to workers is at its lowest ebb because workers are being informed via post-Cabinet briefings about their loss of employment,” Indarsingh stated.
He said he fully supported the decision of the three trade union federations—JTUM, FITUN and NATUC—to withdraw from the National Tripartite Advisory Council (NTAC).
CAL, Petrotrin next?
He said Caroni Green was not only producing peppers, but was also growing paw paw, plantain and other such commodities. He said the Prime Minister missed a golden opportunity to link this company to the diversification of the economy and the development of the agriculture sector.
Indarsingh said if there were management issues at Caroni Green, the Government, through the appointment of a new board of directors, could have addressed these matters.
“Apparently, the PNM Government doesn’t like any State enterprise with the name ‘Caroni’, whether it is Caroni (1975) Ltd or Caroni Green,” Indarsingh quipped.
He asked whether these closures were the beginning of mass retrenchment, and mentioned Caribbean Airlines Ltd and Petrotrin as possible future targets.
In announcing the closure of Caroni Green, Prime Minister Rowley pointed out that the company had a bill of $6 million in administrative expenses but was selling $700,000 in peppers.
He said there were other entities that were “absorbing money” and decisions would be taken on their future.
Agriculture Minister Clarence Rambharat also defended the closure of Caroni Green, saying it was a disaster from day one and did not earn anywhere near the amount of money it took to run it.
He said administrative expenses for 2016 were $8.5 million, with the chief executive officer earning $45,000 a month.
“In cases like Caroni Green, the most prudent thing to do is to close the company and use that money to help independent farmers,” Rambharat stated.
He added the company contributed nothing to the country’s foreign exchange earnings.