The forecast from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) the T&T economy will decline by 5.6 per cent this year has prompted the Congress of the People (COP) to question the government’s decision to outfit a building at a cost of over $20 million.

The full statement from the COP Operations Centre follows:

According to the forecast of the International Monetary Fund, the Trinidad and Tobago economy is expected to decline by 5.6 per cent this year with a razor-thin 2.6 per cent growth in 2021 decreasing to an estimated 1.5 per cent in 2025.

We have already seen via the 2020-2021 budget estimates that our revenue bases are shrinking, foreign exchange reserves are decreasing and likely to continue to do so in the short to medium term. More pressures are being placed on our social programs, more individuals are finding themselves without sustainable jobs if any at all, there has been a freeze on government hiring in the public sector and the list goes on and on.

With this in mind we find it unfathomable to see the need to outfit a building with over TWENTY MILLION DOLLARS, our question is whether this is absolutely necessary at this time where fiscal prudence is required. We are already seeing the removal of several subsidies, the expected increases of commodities and utilities, yet this government finds scare funds to outfit a building. To hide behind remarks of what a former administration attempted also shows that the blame game continues. We would like to implore this government and directly the Minister of Finance to thread careful with indiscriminate spending without giving proper reasoning.

Additionally with the government stated intent of digitization is there really a need for more government renting of buildings or work spaces? Shouldn’t we be looking at using more flexi-time, remote working or even hot desking? Can we truly become a digitally driven economically empowered society using this outdated method? Apart from reducing cost it improves the efficiency and effectiveness of the public service there is therefore is no congruence between the stated digital goals and this needless spending.

We continue to make representation that spending should be concentrated on areas that can bring us growth both in the short, medium and long term.

You have been entrusted with the handling of the public purse, do not abuse that trust once more, but act diligently in ensuring we get the best use of our dwindling financial resources.