Mayaro MP Rushton Paray is calling on the Government to use Venezuelan migrants in farms and factories,
Contributing to the budget debate in the House of Representatives on Friday, Paray said an unknown number of Venezuelan migrants were eking out a living in the informal sector to feed their children and repatriate money to their suffering families. He said at the same time the agricultural sector remained afflicted by a worker shortage.
“Some manufactures require shop floor factory workers. Surely these workers could be put to more beneficial and efficient use under a creative formalised employment programme,” he said.
“The minister serenaded us once more with talk of food sovereignty and then assigned barely over $1 billion to the sector of which 80 per cent goes for salaries and wages,” said Paray.
He called on the Finance Minister to set aside the stipulated US$100 million facility with the EximBank for food processors and manufactures who are supplying the local market and who have the effect to reducing the food importation bill.
Paray said the Finance Minister did not announce a single measure to put people back to work, but merely repeated tired, old, outdated promises. Noting that since 2009 the late Patrick Manning promised to establish a ship building industry, Paray said: “Twelve long years later, a PNM Finance Minister shamelessly dusts off the promise like an old vinyl record and starts humming the same familiar lyrics.”
He said it was “deeply worrying” that the minister confirmed that Phoenix Park Industrial Estate was being handed over to Chinese authorities under the Belt and Road Initiative.
“The Chinese administration has been vigorously seeking to expand its influence in this part of the world, as part of its calculated political and diplomatic challenge to American economic power in its backyard. A zero sum game is currently at play. Trinidad and Tobago could become a pawn in this high-stakes conflict. We should remind ourselves that when elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers,” Paray stated.
“Our diplomatic missions around the world must have capable trade facilitation officers, not retired PNM hacks sent to pasture and in some cases, just to keep them out of the (political) ring,” he said.
Pigtail proposals and
Paray said Trinidad and Tobago had become more discredited than Nicki Minaj’s cousin’s friend.
He slammed the budget for being “laden with pigtail proposals and sausage solutions”.
Paray said the budget failed to address the alarming reality of homeowners and small and medium-sized entrepreneurs losing their properties, while commercial banks are raking in billion-dollar profits.
“Trinidad and Tobago may be the only country in the world where financial institutions have increased profits while tens of thousands of struggling clients are unable to service loans, with some of them having to hand over their house keys,” he said.
He said in Britain and other countries, banks were “mandated- not encouraged, but instructed- to provide specific stimulus benefits, such as revised interest rates to corporate and individual clients for identified periods”.
Paray said the budget sidestepped the critical shortage and the inequitable distribution of foreign exchange, which is a primary factor in the increasing cost of living. “Importers of food and other essentials are being rationed while there are no complaints from those who bring in luxury items. The thriving black market for forex is a major reason why the poor man can barely afford to put food on the table,” Paray stated.