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Warner claims Govt took his ideas
Both Jack Warner, interim leader of the Independent Liberal Party, and Movement for Social Justice leader David Abdulah were unimpressed by the $61.3 billion budget presented by Minister of Finance and the Economy Larry Howai. In a phone interview with the T&T Guardian yesterday, Abdulah said what was presented by Howai was a repeat of what was said in previous budgets. Although, he said, fiscal measures were presented, there was no quantification of the measures. A number of incentives were given to oil and gas companies but he asked what was going to be the return to the country. Very little, Abdulah said, was said about agriculture and Howai did not present a policy statement on agriculture. While he said there was support for the strengthening of the manufacturing industry through the Exim Bank, Howai’s statement on the creative industry was a restatement of what was said before. “There were no new bold incentives by the Minister of Finance,” Abdulah said.
Completely bold new initiatives were needed to transform the economy, he felt. Asked about plans announced for national security, Abdulah said of the Government’s plans for additional CCTV cameras that a mechanism was needed so that the footage could be used as evidence to arrest and prosecute people. Until then, he said, it was just ornamental. “It was a copycat budget,” said Warner as he gave his opinion on the fourth budget presentation made by the People’s Partnership yesterday. “They copied all of my proposals, which I gave seven months ago. The only difference is they have put $1 billion more on it.” He said seven months ago he had given the Government all the proposals made in yesterday’s two-hour-long budget presentation and more. Warner, a former Minister of National Security, questioned the Government’s proposed initiatives to address the rising crime situation.
He said the Government said this year was better than last year but offered no figures to support its claim. “What figures are there to show that this year is better than last year?” He also spoke to the Government’s plans for a proposed health card. Howai announced that to eliminate abuses and to make the Chronic Disease Assistance Programme (CDAP) more efficient, the Government would implement a health card system to ensure a register of all patients accessing the health services and enhance the ability to monitor and improve the services delivered.
“They spoke about health card. The food card scandal is still simmering. The health card will be no different,” Warner said. The Government, he said, was only buying time and nothing presented by Howai gave him a sense of hope. “If I were a businessman in this country I would close shop. If I were a child in this country I would hold my head and bawl, because we have lost hope,” he said. Asked how he would have done things differently, Warner said he would speak about those measures when the House reconvened on Friday to debate the budget.
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