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Kamla: Govt, OWTU in deal

MIRANDA LA ROSE Saturday, January 7 2017

OPPOSITION Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar suspects Government and the Oilfield Workers Trade Union (OWTU) have arrived at a deal, hence Finance Minister Colm Imbert’s remarks in the Parliament yesteray that there was no panic buying of fuel despite the union’s threat to take strike action at Petrotrin from Monday.

“Let us see what happens over the weekend. I suspect that the matter might have already been dealt with,” she told reporters at the adjournment of yesterday’s sitting of the Parliament.

“I hope there is in fact a deal in the public’s interest and for the benefit of the people of Trinidad and Tobago,” she said.

Persad-Bissessar said it was passing strange, she said, that the meeting between the Minister of Labour and Small and Micro Enterprises, the OWTU and Petrotrin was adjourned yesterday “to go all the way down to Sunday.” She queried, “Don’t you find that strange? Why didn’t they meet tomorrow? Why?” She also heard by the way, “One of them saying that the court is going to make a ruling soon.” When Imbert said that people are not panic buying because they know that the Government was working in their best interest, Persad-Bissessar said, “Of course they are friends. They are comrades- in-arm as it were, and I do hope they have a deal.” On Imbert’s view that the 0-0-0 offer to the OWTU was a People’s Partnership government offer, Persad-Bissessar said, “Don’t believe everything you hear from the other side. You can go back to Mr (Patrick) Manning’s time as well.” The Rowley-led Government was now in office for 16 months, she said, “and all those things that they say we did, assuming but not admitting that they are true, that we did or did not do, are irrelevant at this point in time.” She said Government has had 16 months to deal with the issues for which they preached they had all the answers and solutions. She expressed the view that Government has collapsed and Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley has given a no-confidence in his entire Cabinet by committees to do everything.

She called the initiative “a committeerisation of Government.” She said government ministers were not speaking to the public. “We do not hear them speaking. We hear very few ministers speaking. The minister of everything speaks on everything,” she said.

Meanwhile on Government finally sending the Tax Exchange Information Bill to a Joint Select Committee, she said, the matter could have been resolved four months ago but because of bad faith on the part of Government in dragging their feet and reneging on their promise, it was not done before.

She congratulated the opposition members of Parliament holding fast to their position in spite of being bullied inside and outside of the Parliament by their colleagues and some members of the private sector. She noted the need for it to go a JSC because of the intrusive nature of some provisions that could affect the privacy of local citizens as well.



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