Kamla Persad-Bissessar

RALLY IN BARATARIA: Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar and candidate for San Juan/Barataria Saddam Hosein give their thumbs up during a motorcade in Barataria last week. —Photo: ISHMAEL SALANDY

OPPOSITION Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar has rubbished Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley’s claim that if elected, her Government would raid the funds of the Unit Trust Corporation (UTC) and the National Insurance Board (NIB).

At a public meeting in San Fernando recently, Rowley warned that the UNC would interfere with private savings and cash reserves and also pensions.

“The Rowley administration is committed to a campaign strategy based on lies and propaganda. After spending the last five years destroying the economy, they are now resorting to these desperate acts to attempt to fool the nation,” Persad-Bissessar said at a UNC virtual meeting on Thursday. The former prime minister said the UNC’s plan is to establish a National Infrastructure Fund (NIF) using the idle cash balances of the UTC and NIB.

Idle cash balances, she said, in no way shape or form constitute the NIB’s national pension fund or the UTC’s mutual funds.

She said these funds are legally separate and distinct from their respective institutions.

She added that the UNCs plan for the NIF will fund infrastructure projects which will generate revenue.

Persad-Bissessar criticised former public utilities minister Robert Le Hunte who knocked her plan.

“It seems that Mr Hunte just doesn’t understand. Maybe that’s why the bank that he was in in Ghana failed. Rowley, I could understand, because we know he don’t know nothing about financials. He doesn’t know anything about the economy,” she said.

Le Hunte was appointed as the managing director of Republic Bank (Ghana) in July 2015 and served in that capacity until August 2017. Checks of the website of Republic Bank (Ghana) indicate the bank has not failed and is quite profitable.

With respect to the UNC’s proposed wage subsidy, Persad-Bissessar said it will be immediately put into place for a six-month period to help the small business community in this period of crisis.

She said the aim is to prevent any further lay-offs and business closures and create a foundation to build out the UNC National Transformation Plan 2020-2025.

She said the wage subsidy will cover 75 per cent of the minimum wage salary per employee.

Persad-Bissessar said this is calculated to some $2,310 per employee and with an estimated 50,000 employees targeted it would cost $693 million.

“Compare this estimated $693 million in immediate relief for our citizens to the $20 billion that disappeared under this Rowley regime in the fight against Covid-19,” she said.

She said the UNC’s plan will cost less than $1 billion to bring relief to workers and get them back to work.

“We have a proper plan which is based on protecting your physical, economic and social well-being,” she said.

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