INDARSINGH ON PROPOSED INCREASE IN NIS CONTRIBUTIONS: IMBERT IS ECONOMICALLY REPULSIVE: QUESTIONS WHY THE GOVERNMENT IS TAKING DIRECTIONS FROM THE IMF.
April 5th, 2023.
The recent announcement by Minister of Finance Colm Imbert that the Rowley-led Government is seeking to increase contributions to the National Insurance Fund is one of the most oppressive, anti-worker, deceitful stabs in the backs of workers across Trinidad and Tobago.
The country has yet again been lied to by the People’s National Movement, which had made mention only of a consideration to increase the retirement age, another measure which I vehemently and totally reject.
Between the increase in the retirement age to 65 and this new dictatorial move to increase NIS rates, it is clear that this Government continues to pick the pockets of the workers of this country, and our working class continues to pay for the high-handed economic mismanagement which has befallen our country under Colm Imbert and Keith Rowley.
It was only days ago, in March 2023, that Colm Imbert told this country that the government would not be rushing into a decision to increase the retirement age. After meeting with representatives of majority unions across the country, it is clear that the Government was unable to achieve any consensus or meaningful agreement by unions to increase the retirement age and is now attempting to legitimize its position as an IMF recommendation.
After years of lying to this country and saying that this Government is not in the hands of the IMF, Colm Imbert has revealed the truth by hiding behind the IMF like a coward in seeking to justify his economically repulsive recommendation.
It is instructive to note that this country has been aware of deficiencies with the National Insurance Fund for over a decade, yet after 8 years at the helm of this country, Keith Rowley and Colm Imbert failed to address the substantive issues.
Now, as a result of their repeated failure, the workers of this country are being forced to pay.
It is instructive to note that this increase in the retirement age and the increase in contribution rates were announced amidst the ongoing thrust of the PNM to increase electricity rates, with the government using the Regulated Industries Commission to gerrymander the consultation process and silence public disquiet over their unpopular proposed increases.
In addition, recent media reports are testimony to the disturbing escalation in the cost of food, drinks and transportation since this administration came into office.
A major concern is that there has been a decrease in formal employment, and therefore a reduction in the number of persons in the NIS system. It is clear that the contributors currently in the system will have to pay more out of their salaries to compensate for the shortfalls in employment and the resulting decreases in the value of contributions.
More so, an increase in contribution rates means that all businesses will have to pay more to the Fund. Given the increases in utilities, costs of production, property tax and other related inputs, can this be afforded by small and medium businesses? Increased expenses will lead to business closures, which will lead to unemployment.
It is clear that the PNM is dead set on killing small and medium businesses to consolidate more space for their big business friends in the 1%.
With the Government boasting that they have been in consultation with the labour movement they have failed to indicate which unions are in support of any increases in NIS contributions.
With all these hardships being imposed on the population, and now with the imminent increase in NIS rates, Peter is paying for Paul, and this population is paying for the PNM.
The ‘P’ in ‘PNM’ no longer stands for “people”, but stands for “pickpockets”, as Keith Rowley, Colm Imbert and this Government of pickpockets continue to steal from the poor and middle class in this country to hide their own greed, incompetence and lack of care for this nation.
Member of Parliament for Couva South and SHADOW RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE
MINISTRY OF LABOUR and TOBAGO AFFAIRS.