The number of CEPEP workers may be increased in future as Government has increased work to be done, such as monitoring Petrotrin’s golf course and land, which may require increased CEPEP employees and contractors.
Finance Minister Colm Imbert indicated this last night as he wound up parliamentary debate on the 2020 Budget.
However, the debate ended a bit abruptly. After People’s National Movement MP Nicole Olliviere spoke close to 8 pm, no Opposition MP rose and Imbert moved to conclude the debate. United National Congress MP Bhoe Tewarie, however, told the T&T Guardian the Opposition had had three other speakers—David Lee, Rudy Indarsingh and Barry Padarath—but they didn’t get to speak.
Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley didn’t speak in the Budget debate either.
On CEPEP workers, Imbert repeated assurances that none of the CEPEP numbers would be reduced and they would get the 15 per cent pay increase promised in the budget on or before December 1, “And if you get us vex we will do it in November.”
He said they (Opposition) had recruited mouthpieces to create newspaper headlines as they don’t have an answer to the Budget.
“They have no answer to this Budget as this is a people-oriented Government ... is the good news they can’t take ... it bothering them, they didn’t even say anything on the ban of styrofoam and plastics.
“This is an excellent Budget! Even business groups led by people who would not normally support PNM supported the Budget,” he said.
Imbert added that business groups from Couva, Tabaquite and Chaguanas supported the Budget. He said he was shocked.
“The T&T manufacturers, the Chamber, even people who contested against the PNM supported it—that’s why UNC have nothing to say.”
He also accused UNC MP Roodal Moonilal of attacking the Oilfields Workers’ Trade Union (OWTU) leadership and also dismissed Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar’s Budget contribution, saying she her plans included devaluing the dollar and increasing interest rates, which would burden the poor.
“We’ll beat them in the west, we’ll beat them in the east, and south, north and Tobago,” Imbert declared, concluding debate at 8.18 pm.
The Budget will now be examined by Parliament’s Standing Finance Committee from 3 pm today. Over the next four days, all items of expenditure will be scrutinised, starting with Local Government this afternoon.