UNC Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar is challenging the Finance Minister to explain why he gave a deficit figure in his 2020 budget that was considerably lower than the real figure.
Speaking at her party’s virtual report meeting on Monday night, Persad-Bissessar claimed that Colm Imbert gave an estimate of $16.8 billion, but page 5 of the Estimates of Revenue 2021, under Heads 10 and 11, shows that “Over $23 billion in deficit for fiscal 2019/2020, not the $16.8 billion Imbert said with his own mouth.”
“He lied. Minister Imbert, I ask you to tell us why you lied to the country, why you tried to hide the depth of the hole we are in in terms of deficit.
Persad-Bissessar said “Since they came in, they have been running deficits higher and higher and higher. Always overspending, squandermania, spending on contracts for wives and families.”
Besides wanting to know why he hid this alleged deficit, she asked “What did you do with this extra $23billion? The country deserves an answer. The indebtedness for borrowing, our children and grandchildren will have to pay it.”
She said $16.4 billion came from borrowing, on top of borrowings from the previous years and $6.6 billion from raiding the Heritage and Stabilisation Fund (HSF).
“While they blame Kamla and the UNC and the PP, thank God we left money in the HSF. That is the money they are raiding and spending.”
Persad-Bisessar also raised questions about $7 billion to be used for repatriation of nationals, how it was disbursed, how many nationals were repatriated and what were the selection criteria.