The 2012/2013 budget has been described as fraudulent by Opposition Member of Parliament Colm Imbert.
Speaking with reporters at his constituency office at Morne Coco Road yesterday, Imbert, who is due to be the first Opposition speaker in Parliament tomorrow morning when the budget debate resumes, said:
"I intend to look at in some detail the budget arithmetic. I am convinced that the budget figures are fraudulent. It is the best way I can describe it. What the Minister (of Finance Larry Howai) has done is he changed last year's figures to create an illusion of growth. He shrunk the GDP for last year, he made it smaller, so I will go into some great detail on the manipulation of the figures.
No minister of finance has done that before. I have never seen a minister of Finance manipulate figures in order to give a false picture of reality, but I am going to deal with that in great detail on Monday."
Imbert said he will also look at the gas price and the gas subsidy very carefully and what he described as "misinformation" that is out there. "I don't think people properly understand what is going on, so I will just give you a little clue. That $5.75 is not the cost price of the gasoline. When gas is subsidised it means the Government pays the difference between the cost price and the price at the pump. But my understanding is that premium was subsidised by about 75 cents, so cost of premium is really $4.75. So what is the thinking of going to $5.75 you are profiting. So you have gone from a situation of subsidising to making a profit on the population," he said.
Imbert said the Government which has accused the People's National Movement (PNM) of squandermania, has brought the three largest budgets in this country's history with this present budget being the biggest ever, but not thing is being done.
"They condemned the PNM, but you can see what the PNM did. If you drive around the Savannah, you see the Academy for Performing Arts, you go down by Wrightson Road you will see the Waterfront, you will see the Hyatt hotel, you will see the Government Campus. You go South, you will see the Southern Academy for Performing Arts, the Chancery Lane building you can see what the PNM did, but I can't see what these people are doing."
"I don't see any value for the tax dollar that is something I don't understand where has the money gone. It's like it just passing through Trinidad and there is no effect," he said.
He also questioned why Government had shifted the budget allocation from north to south Trinidad, with many of the projects going south.