Slashing the public sector will inflict deep suffering on an already ailing population.
So said Minister in the Ministry of Finance Brian Manning in response to recommendations made by senior economist Dr Terrence Farrell that the government must make cuts in the Public Service and increase utility rates to save the economy. Farrell, the former chairman of the Economic Advisory Board said anything else was simply bad policy. But Manning said Dr Farrell’s policy was outdated and callous.
“What Dr Farrell, and others, have openly recommended is exactly what the former NAR government did almost forty years ago and is today considered outdated, uncaring and almost cruel economic policy,” Manning said.
He noted that the Rowley-led PNM government had embarked on an economic strategy of investment designed to restructure the economy while preserving lives and livelihoods.
Manning recalled how the austerity measures by the NAR created social chaos.
“While these measures will improve our economic indicators, they would also so severely impugn the standard of living for the average Trinbagonian that no one would care,” he said. He noted that even the International Monetary Fund (IMF), after decades of criticism for forcing borrowing countries to implement austerity measures, has made an about-face on this draconian economic strategy.
“T&T remains an investment-grade country with a relatively high credit rating which allows us continued access to cheap debt on both the local and international markets,” he said.
Describing Dr Farrell’s recommendations as “policies of pain,” Manning said, “There is no question that our economy is in a delicate state.”
He said the economy required fundamental restructuring and cuts to superfluous spending.