Senator Khadijah Ameen

Concerned: Senator Khadijah Ameen

Jobs for Trinbagonians are under threat because employers will tap into Venezuelan ‘cheap labour’ who require no National Health Insurance (NIS) payments says Opposition Senator Khadijah Ameen-

She noted that some 14,000 Venezuelans have been officially registered and claimed there are thousands more who have not.

Registered Venezuelans will be given the opportunity to work and live in Trinidad and Tobago. They are not required to make NIS payments.

“I want to warn citizens of Trinidad and Tobago while the Government will pretend or come to us and tell us that this doesn’t concern you, we really don’t want the Venezuelans to make to many claims to buss our pocket, I want to warn Trinidad and Tobago that this measure will have serious implications and put Trinidad and Tobago’s jobless citizens and job seeking citizens at a serious disadvantage when it comes to getting a job,” said Ameen.

She was speaking at the Senate sitting yesterday in the debate of The Miscellaneous Provisions (Tax Amnesty, Pensions, Freedom of Information, National Insurance, Central Bank and Non-Profit Organisations) Bill, 2019.

Ameen questioned what guided the Government’s to exclude migrants from paying NIS.

“When an employer is required to pay national insurance contributions for a national of Trinidad and Tobago but they are not required to pay for a migrant or a non citizen, who do you think they will give preference to hiring?” she asked.

She added that very often migrants perform work that is beneath their qualifications and they provide a pool of cheap labour for employers.

She said in Trinidad and Tobago there are so many people who are jobless including the thousands from Petrotrin and other Government agencies.

“Here you have a measure that gives the employers in Trinidad and Tobago that gives an employer the incentive to employ a migrant over a national of Trinidad and Tobago. It puts our citizens at an unfair disadvantage,” she said.

Ameen noted a number of major conglomerates have put out advertisements in the newspaper in foreign languages namely Spanish.

She said ‘cheap labour’ leaves the door open for exploitation of these migrants.

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Agriculture Minister Clarence Rambharath said this country has done what it can to assist Venezuelans.

He said the Finance Minister had shared the consequences of migrants paying NIS and Government moved to ensure that the process does not hurt the long term interest of the national insurance fund.

“We know the performance of the national insurance and we cannot on the basis of somebody making ten contributions to the national insurance give access to a benefit that goes beyond the 10 contributions for example the maternity benefit,” he said.

Rambharath also expressed his views on the anti Venezuelan protest outside the Oval a few days ago.

“I passed through there and I could not imagine these well oiled and well heeled Trinidadians having the time to go out there to terrorise the Venezuelans in their moment of distress, rank foolishness as they say and then come back here today and talk about seeking the interest of the Venezuelans,” he said.

Government, he said, has sought the interest of Venezuelans but “we have also accepted that there is a point to which we cannot go,”.


OPPOSITION Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar says the Oilfields Workers’ Trade Union (OWTU) is attempting to deflect scrutiny of what she described yesterday as its failure to protect former Petrotrin workers.

Tabaquite MP Suruj Rambachan said yesterday he was very concerned about fraudsters coming into the country and operating and working illegally as spiritualists and “ripping people off”. Noting that there were such persons “all over the country”, Rambachan said they were sometimes being facilitated by local people.