Finance Minister Colm Imbert yesterday said all the statements he makes are based on facts and data, as he continued his quest to “pull off the mask” of people he claimed are politicians trying to disguise themselves as “independent and unbiased” economic commentators.
Imbert also took to his Twitter account to highlight the title of his post-graduate dissertation, as he sought to silence critics who claim because of his engineering background he had no idea what he is doing as Finance Minister.
“Just for the information of all concerned, the title of my LLM (Master of Laws) dissertation from the Aberdeen Business School in 2015 was ‘An Appropriate Taxation Regime for a Mature Oil Province in a Period of Low Oil Prices—The Challenge for Trinidad and Tobago,” Imbert, who did his post-graduate dissertation in 2015, wrote on his Twitter page. The dissertation looked at an appropriate tax regime for this country during a period of low oil prices.
Imbert started his day on social media yesterday continuing his attempt to discredit those commentators he felt were not independent.
The attack began in the Parliament early Friday as he wound up the debate on the Finance Bill, when he trained his guns on five economic commentators—Professor Patrick Watson, Indera Sagewan-Alli, Marla Dukharan, Dr Roger Hosein and Mariano Browne—as he responded to a statement made earlier in the debate by Opposition Member of Parliament Barry Padarath.
Imbert continued his onslaught yesterday.
“Patrick Watson was a COP (Congress of the People) Senator in the PP (People’s partnership) Government from 2010 to 2011,” Imbert began his tweets yesterday, as he provided a link to the Parliament’s profile of Watson.
“As is done in the USA and UK, these commentators should declare their political affiliations, so the public will know that they are not independent or unbiased.”
“Indera Sagewan-Alli was the UNC (United National Congress) Opposition MP for Caroni East from Aug 1994 to Oct 1995 and also served as a temporary UNC government senator during the period Nov 1995 to Nov 2000. How is someone with that history deemed to be ‘independent’?” he wrote, as he also provided a link to the Parliament’s profile of Sagewan-Alli.
During a telephone interview with i95.5FM later on, Imbert said the commentators were making claims without proper information.
“I have distinguished economists that advise me that work in my ministry, I consult with international agencies, I get a lot of very, very serious research done in the Ministry of Finance. We don’t play inside of there,” Imbert said.
“So when we come out and talk, everything we say we can back it up. So if I say that I am seeing a growth in revenue in the non-oil sector I could back it up, I have the actual figures, I talk from a basis of fact.”
Imbert said the commentators, however, do not talk from a position of fact.
Imbert said an example of this is the fact that none of them mentioned the “stable” outlook given to this country by rating agency Moody’s on Thursday.
“Moody’s published an update on Trinidad and Tobago and have maintained a stable outlook for Trinidad and Tobago under this PNM Government, but you would never hear them saying that you know,” he said.
Hosein, Browne and Sagewan-Alli have all condemned Imbert’s attack on their credibility.
Dukharan posted a quote from George Bernard Shaw stating, “I learned long ago, never to wrestle with a pig. You get dirty, and besides, the pig likes it.” Dukharan is the chief economist at Bitt Inc.
In a statement yesterday, Bitt Inc chairman Peter George said Imbert’s comments were completely misleading and an attempt to divert attention away from the mid-year fiscal budget review.
“Bitt Inc welcomes any positive interaction with the Minister of Finance in articulating to and educating him on the potential benefits of Blockchain technology to Trinidad and Tobago, but we roundly reject his erroneous and flippant assertions both to Ms Dukharan and our firm,” George said.