Two days after the Central Bank Governor said only 365 people lost their jobs in the first half of 2020, the former Minister in the Ministry of Labour Rudranath Indarsingh has called for disclosure of the “true unemployment figures.”
Indarsingh said based on the figures outlined by the Social Development Minister before elections, it was not accurate to say that only 365 people were retrenched.
“Before the election, Minister Camille Robinson-Regis indicated that $112 million was paid in Salary Relief Grants. Given that these grants were intended at supplementing the incomes of those who were severely affected through job losses during the COVID-19 lockdown, it cannot mathematically be that the sum of $112 million grant dollars was released to only 365 people,” Indarsingh said.
He added, “Staff cuts at the Newsday, others at a prestigious food establishment, the closure of the Trinidad and Tobago Tourism and Hospitality Institute (TTHTI), closure of Arcelor Mittal, Methanol Holdings, Centrin, Tube City IMS, Yara, the shuttering of the Proman M3 Methanol Plant, the temporary shuttering of Nutrien’s PCS 02 ammonia production plant and the imminent cuts at BP strongly suggest that there is an extreme variance between Governor Hillarie’s irksome statistics and the reality of unemployment in our economy.”
Saying he was concerned “about the Government’s use of questionable data give a false sense of competence and economic leadership,” Indarsingh called on Labour Minister Steven McLashie to disclose labour statistics, the source of these statistics and the number of retrenchment and layoff notices that have been formally reported to the ministry since the Covid-19 Pandemic.”
“It cannot be that this Government steals more jobs from the people and the officeholders who have jobs are not doing their jobs correctly,” Indarsingh added.
He said based on the number of people coming for aid, the statistics seemed to be outlandish.
“Desperate cries for help by members of the public at our constituency and councillor’s offices show the true extent of job loss, resulting from restructuring, layoffs and business/plant closures,” he added.
Indarsingh noted that the liquidation of Trincity Mall and Long Circular Mall, key assets of State-owned CL Financial prove that layoffs were prevalent and “quite possibly exceed the sheepish figure offered by the Governor.”
“We are therefore calling on the Governor of the Central Bank, who we must remind the nation was surreptitiously appointed by the incumbent Finance Minister, to reveal his source of these statistics, as they deem to accidentally or deliberately misrepresent the real extent of job loss for the given period,” Indarsingh added.
He continued, “This Imbert-appointed Governor of the Central Bank seems to be firing statistical blanks.”
On Tuesday Governor Hillaire in the Central Bank’s July Economic Bulletin said 365 people were retrenched in six months according to the notices filed at the Labour Ministry.
“There was a sharp falloff in demand for labour, and job advertisements in the print media declined by 43.4 per cent (year-on-year) during the first half of 2020,” the bank said.
With the official Central Statistical Office (CSO) labour statistics being updated to the third quarter of 2018, the ministry’s data showed that the manufacturing sector accounted for 64 per cent of all retrenchments.
“Meanwhile, job advertisements in the print media during the first half of 2020 averaged 192 advertisements compared with 338 advertisements during the similar period of 2019 (a decline of 43.4 per cent), suggesting a sharp decline in the demand for labour compared to last year,” the bank reported.