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Persad-Bissessar: HSF’s $6bn decline an indication of government’s incompetence and negligence

Opposition Leader, Kamla Persad-Bissessar said the decline of over $6 billion TTD in the HSF in just one year, as confirmed by the Central Bank, is a clear indication of the government’s incompetence and negligence.

In a release on Monday, she said this has shown that this government has collapsed and is trying to wastefully spend as much as it can before they demit office.

She said the recent article in the Express newspaper, reporting a decline of $913.5 million USD or some TT$6 billion in the Heritage and Stabilization Fund (HSF) for the financial year ended September 30th, 2022, sheds light on Prime Minister Keith Rowley and Finance Minister Colm Imbert’s negligence and incompetence.

According to Persad-Bissessar, “the government’s failure to protect the HSF, which represents the savings of our nation, is a grave dereliction of duty. The fact that the incompetent Ewart Williams presided over this historic loss is not surprising. This is the same bungling PNM stooge who sat in the Central Bank and looked on like a bewildered fool while the CL Financial group imploded and thousands of citizens suffered losses. Only the Rowley government could reward such incompetence and uselessness with a promotion.”

“The government’s withdrawal of over US$1.9 billion or TT$12.9 billion from the fund over the past 7 years and 9 months has severely undermined its purpose and depleted its resources. This stands in stark contrast to the previous UNC-led government, which diligently followed the law governing the HSF and contributed to its growth.”

She added: “It is important to note that my UNC-led government, in accordance with the law, made deposits to the HSF whenever surplus revenues from petroleum were generated. Under my UNC government, Trinidad and Tobago recorded the highest foreign reserves in our history. This has been consistently depleted since the UNC demitted office in 2015.”

“The question of using deficits is irrelevant especially when you consider that this PNM government has amassed deficits in excess of $68 billion cumulatively more than four times the total deficit of the UNC-led government.”

The UNC leader said it has also caused Adjusted General Government Debt Outstanding to rise from TT$73.0 billion at the end of Quarter 2 in 2015 the last full quarter of the UNC-led Government to $128.8 billion by December last year. This is an increase of $55.8 billion or more than a 76 per cent increase in net Government debt.

Persad-Bissessar said this PNM government is irresponsible given their demonstrated record of seeking praise for sunshine but recuses itself from blame when there is a rainy day.