Mariano Browne: “T&T not bankrupt”

Mariano Browne: “T&T not bankrupt”

Former Minister in the Ministry of Finance is stating that Trinidad and Tobago is far from being bankrupt: He made the statement on his LinkedIn page.

Browne made the statement in response to part of Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley’s speech at the recent PNM convention: “the previous government spent us into bankruptcy, trying to buy themselves a second term, they took expectations to a point beyond reality and sustainability and if we didn’t do the same, we’d be seen as heartless, incompetent and uncaring.”

Browne countered: Bankruptcy? The country is not bankrupt. There is enough money to run the country properly, but it requires leadership, management, and a streamlined government bureaucracy operating with a modicum of efficiency. In September 2015, the PNM inherited a 47.1% debt/GDP ratio; at June 2019 it was 61.9% of GDP. The precipitous decline in income is the fault of international markets, not the UNC and would have bedeviled any administration. UNC’s 2014 experience is similar to that of the PNM in the 1981-86 period. The challenge is to manage the situation.

The IMF has been painted as the villain of the piece. The single, oft repeated objective of this administration is to avoid the adjustment policies of the IMF as adopted by the NAR. Portraying the IMF as the villain, the finance minister has avoided the benefit of sober reflection provided by the IMF’ s Article IV consultation this year. In April 2019, the IMF correctly pointed out that the government’s growth projection of 1.9% for 2018 was wholly unrealistic and projected a figure of 0.3% for 2018 and 0.0% for 2019 much to Imbert’s annoyance. The 2019 Review of the Economy shows the economy declined in 2018 by -0.2% a far cry from government’s projection of 1.9%. Government’s projections for 2020 and 2021 are similarly miscalculated.

Browne also quoted Terrence Farrell, former head of the Economic Advisory Board referred to T&T in one of his books as “The Underachieving Society”. What is the PNM’s leadership doing to change that?