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Published: 
Thursday, September 14, 2017

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley last night condemned members of the public who have been attacking police officers while they are conducting their duty.

Speaking at a ‘Conversation with the Prime Minister’ at the St Augustine Secondary School last night, the PM referenced recent attacks against officers, saying, “I want to condemn those in communities who attack the police when they are carrying out law enforcement. If you think the police is your enemy think again.”

Rowley said people must remember “one day, one hour when the criminals attack, after you call out to God you have to call the police. So stop that foolishness.”

He said in recent times there had been an improvement in the performance of the police. But he said just like teachers, doctors and others do the jobs they are paid to do “crime fighting is the duty of those under national security.”

Rowley also spoke to the dire economic situation in the country, saying his Government was committed to doing the best for all the people.

“Government is about people and decisions, difficult as they may be, must be about the people,” he said.

Referencing recent polls which showed a decline in his popularity, he said, “You did not elect me to be popular. Populist politics is what got us where we are today.”

In the past two years, he said “given the hand we were dealt” hard decisions had to be made. His said Government did not have the luxury to say “I will give you this, I will give you that.”

While trade unions, with whom he met with yesterday, were against a wage freeze, he said the “only employees under a wage freeze are parliamentarians.”

While there is no official policy on a wage freeze, Rowley said the Government, which has 89,000 public officers on its wage bill, was concerned about ensuring people kept their jobs and could put food on their table.

It’s a headache every month, he said, for the Minister of Finance to meet the public service wage bill and Government had been borrowing to meet the commitment.

But he assured the Government has no policy to lay off workers, saying “some contracts may have come to an end. But there is no policy to manage the gap between expenditure and revenue by mass lay-offs.”

He said his Government has also not pursued a devaluation option. However, he said Government is “duty bound to bring down expenditure,” given that in the short to medium term “revenue is constricted. We restrict what we spend to grow revenue.”

Whatever the Government does he said had to be done with “balance and compassion, at the end of the day it is all about people.”