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posted 23 Jun 2016, 12:50 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 24 Jun 2016, 07:07 ]
The National Workers Union issued the following statement dated 2016/06/23:



The National Workers Union warns the working people of Trinidad and Tobago that if they do not intervene with all the muscle at their command, they are going to be forced to bear more burdens than they already bear as the international Monetary Fund (IMF) recommends more austerity measures to the government.

The IMF has outlined the measures they recommend the government of Trinidad and Tobago take to deal with the economic crisis. These measures are contained in a press release issued on June 20th 2016 and arise from the Article IV Consultation carried out on May 6th. It should be noted that IMF personnel have been entrenched in the Ministry of Finance for some time now.

The IMF claims that the T&T currency is grossly overvalued and has stated that its Directors have recommended “greater exchange rate flexibility” through “a careful adjustment strategy.” This is just a fancy way of saying that the IMF recommends that the T&T currency be devalued. By saying it is “grossly” overvalued; the IMF is suggesting a massive devaluation and by talking of a “careful adjustment strategy” it is warning the government not to do a one and done devaluation, but to devalue by increments, for fear of provoking  resistance from working people and the poor.

Because we import nearly everything we consume, devaluation is going to hit working people and the poor where it hurts most – in our pockets, because the cost of most goods and services is going to become even more expensive than they now are.

The IMF argues that so-called exchange rate flexibility should be part of a “comprehensive demand-management package.” What this means is that demand for goods and services should be suppressed; that working people and the poor should have less disposable outcome and this would decrease the demand for foreign exchange to be spent on everyday goods and services.

As part of this so-called demand management package, the IMF that “priority should be given to broadening the revenue base with a comprehensive VAT reform...” Not content with devaluation as part of their demand management recommendation, the IMF urges the government to increase the tax burden on working people and the poor through the Value Added tax.

Another measure recommended by the IMF that would send the cost of living skyrocketing further is the phasing out of fuel subsidies, a measure which the PNM government has already begun to implement.

The IMF further recommends “strong comprehensive structural reforms...” and emphasises the “importance of pushing ahead with energy sector taxation reforms”. The IMF is supporting the international energy giants that squat offshore in their quest to adjust the Supplemental Petroleum Tax (SPT) to reduce the tax liability of the energy corporations. This, of course, will mean less revenue for the State and less foreign exchange coming into the system. They go on to talk about “addressing inefficiencies in the public service”, which is IMF-speak for the reduction of personnel in the public service and the health service, which has already begun with the ongoing attack on contract workers and daily paid casual and temporary workers.

It is clear that the IMF is ideologically committed to inflicting austerity measures on working people and the poor. It is clear that the government of T&T is committed to implementing over time the recommendations of the IMF, even in the absence of an IMF standby arrangement.

The National Workers Union calls on working people and the poor to make it clear to the government that they will not bow down meekly and accept this back breaking austerity programme that just makes the rich richer and takes away the little that working people and the poor have.

The National Workers Union calls on the leaders of the trade union movement to stop flirting and fooling around with governments made up of politicians who have pawned their souls to capitalist financiers and get down to the task of informing and educating the members of their unions about the very real threat to the quality of life of themselves and their families for generations to come.

The National Workers Union calls on trade union leaders to engage in serious, sustained mobilisation of their members and the community to devise methods to beat back the threat by the power of our numbers and the power over production so that the business elites do not crush the interests of working people and the poor by forcing them to bear the burden of an economic crisis they had no part in making.


Gerry Kangalee (National Education and Research Officer.  Cell: 785-7637)