PNM ‘shocked, horrified’ over motion rejection
The Opposition People’s National Movement (PNM) has expressed “shock and horror” that Senate President Timothy Hamel-Smith rejected a private motion which called on the Government to account on the state of Trinidad and Tobago’s national debt.
At the opening of the new Parliamentary session, Opposition Senator Lester Henry filed the motion, which took issue over the state of the economy, and called on the Government “to advise this Senate as to the current status of all aspects of the Republic’s debt, its profile for the short to medium term and its ability to monitor, manage and service same”.
Last Friday, Henry received a letter from Hamel-Smith stating that the motion was rejected.
Yesterday, Henry, together with PNM colleagues Fitzgerald Hinds, Faris Al-Rawi, Terence Deyalsingh and Marlene McDonald, called a news conference at the Opposition’s office in Port of Spain to voice their concerns.
Henry pointed out that the Government, when it first entered office in 2010, tabled a motion to lambaste the PNM on its mismanagement of the economy, which the PNM refuted through debate.
He said over the past three years this Government keeps bringing “record budgets” which ran into deficit and has not been accounting for its expenditure.
“What we are seeing is a significant run up in the public debt for the past three years and this is particularly alarming in the context of very little or no economic growth over the period,” said Henry.
“The projections from the Government of continued spending without any revenue generation is putting the country’s economic future in jeopardy,” he added.
Hinds noted that the motion was timely and needed as Government prepares to deliver another record budget on September 9.
He noted that Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley had pointed out that figures from the Treasury show that the debt to GDP ratio could go as high as 71 per cent by 2016.
“We are shocked and horrified to learn that the motion was rejected,” said Hinds, adding that traditionally the Senate President would accept amendments to motions so that they could be facilitated, but this did not happen.
Hinds claimed that this was a pattern that was developing.
He said he filed a series of questions pertaining to the controversial Section 34 issue which were rejected.
Hinds added that he also filed questions asking the Prime Minister to indicate how many Cabinet meetings were held since this Government entered office, where they were held, and who chaired them and this question was also rejected.