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I will not bow to pressure
In the face of mounting pressure from the Public Services Association (PSA) and Clico investors, tough-talking Finance Minister Winston Dookeran says he will not bend to pressure.
He made the statement one day ahead of the PSA’s third mass protest action, themed “Blackout Tuesday Reloaded”, scheduled for today. Addressing the Congress of the People’s annual Divali celebrations at the Point Fortin Mandir, Guapo Cap-de-Ville Road, on Sunday night, Dookeran said:
“Like Gandhi I have always felt that inspite of the problems that I face as Minister of Finance, inspite of the protestations that have come my way, I shall not bend in pursuit of the national interest of Trinidad and Tobago.”
Asked if his statement was reference to the PSA, Dookeran said: “Well, that’s partly it.” However, Dookeran has appealed for reason from the PSA. The Finance Minister maintained he was committed to completing PSA negotiations by next month, since, he said, a solution to the issue was a must.
“There is no question we have to find a solution and we will find a solution. I will not bend, as I said earlier, in protecting the public interest,” Dookeran said. While the PSA continued to apply pressure, Clico investors are calling on Dookeran to pay them 40 per cent, if not all their earnings.
Dookeran, however, said: “To put the onus of everything, as people are saying, Government must pay now and must pay interest and pay everything is really absurd. We have to keep the things in place.”
The Finance Minister said by December he hoped to pay off the Government’s $75,000 offer to all Clico depositors. He said while Government inherited the Clico issue it was its (the Government’s) duty to seek the public’s interest. Dookeran told the audience: “I want to tell you if I did not have to pay those Clico depositors I will have enough money to provide the highway for you from San Fernando to Point Fortin.” He said if the Clico situation was dealt with “then we will have the freedom to deal with our development problems.” “We are trying to build back Clico so that someone might be interested in buying it and support all the insurance,” he said.
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