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OWTU President General Ancel Roget, right, together with members sing the union's song " Hold the Fort" as they pay respect to former labour movement leader Tubal Uriah "Buzz" Butler at Charlie King Junction in Fyzabad in commemoration of Labour Day, yestderay.

Banks are continuing to record huge profits while thousands of people suffer says OWTU President General Ancel Roget who is calling on financial institutions to give clients a real moratorium on all outstanding instalments.

In his Labour Day message on Saturday, Roget said “the moratorium should be given with absolutely no interest, allowing workers breathing space to put food on the table over the entire period of the pandemic.”

He added, “Banks continue to amass huge profits whilst many of our citizens go hungry. On November 9, 2020, the Republic Bank website announced that it recorded $904.1 million at the end of year profits. And on May 3, 2021 on the Bank’s website, they announced that they recorded $687.3 million in half-year profits.”

Roget said First Citizens Group recorded a profit before tax of $232.9 million for the three months ended December 31, 2020.

“Also, according to their unaudited accounts published on the T&T Stock Exchange, the Group’s chairman stated that the First Citizens Group concluded another profitable quarter for the period ended March 31, 2021, recording a before-tax profit of $207.3 million,” he said.

“So whilst people are struggling to maintain their family and pay their monthly instalments, loans and mortgages these banks are still declaring enormous profits in the hundreds of millions of dollars.”

Roget also chastised the government for mismanaging the National Insurance Board.

“After paying NIS religiously throughout your entire working life, and you now retire at age 60 and you are counting on that NIS pension, you now have to wait until age 65. So you will be on retirement without your NIS pension for a whole five years,” he said.

“They have mismanaged the Fund, by not ensuring that employers are compliant in remitting both their payments and their employees’ NIS contribution to the Fund.”

With thousands unemployed, Roget said workers are being made to pay the penalty for the government’s mismanagement.

He said all parliamentarians were guaranteed their pension which has been indexed to cope with inflation.

“How more unfair can these people get? These are the same people who are cutting the CEPEP workers’ meagre salary. And what about the workers from the Prestige outlets like KFC, Pizza Hut, TGI Friday, Subway and Starbucks? The little stipend that they were receiving during the lockdown was stopped. What about them? And what about the other thousands of workers who have been home without any assistance,” Roget said.

Roget also claimed that the Roadmap for Recovery Committee’s recommendations had been swept aside by the government.

“They arrogantly do whatever they want even to the detriment of the people,” he said.

He reminded citizens that since last year the OWTU had warned of the government’s plans to deny citizens their NIS.

Last week, Finance Minister Colm Imbert told a webinar hosted by the Latin American Development Bank that an adjustment to the retirement age would be needed to ease the NIS’s burden. He said the proposal to increase the retirement age to 65 from the current age of 60 is under “active consideration,” but noted that the Government has not made a “firm decision” on the matter as yet.