Speaking to reporters shortly before embarking on a march against child sexual abuse though the streets of Couva, Indarsingh also noted that government may have had to increase its borrowing had it agreed to a higher wage percentage increase.
“This in itself relates the reality of the economy of Trinidad and Tobago and the very fact that we are living in what is termed stringent financial times,” Indarsingh said.
“Time and time again the Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar and the Minister of Finance, Mr Winston Dookeran indicated to the country and moreso the trade union movement that we cannot offer outside of five percent taking into consideration what is available in the coffers of the treasury of Trinidad of Tobago,” he said.
“If anything had to go outside of that realm, it would have had tremendous implications for the overall economy of the country, and taking into consideration where do you get if you do not have, and it would have meant that the government would have had to consider probably additional borrowing and increasing the debt burden of the society and the taxpayers,” Indarsingh added. He observed that government had been able to “hammer out this deal” with the PSA in “good faith” saying this “augurs well for the collective bargaining process in spite of the fact that the matter was reported to the special tribunal of the Industrial Court.”
“It signals that government is still willing to dialogue with stakeholders and moreso the trade union movement and to listen to what is being articulated and it sends a strong message that now the public servants and the public services association could settle down and focus on the public service delivering to the people of Trinidad and Tobago,” he added.
Asked whether the agreement would set the benchmark for other negotiations including that of police officers, Indarsingh said, “well it has clearly sent a signal in relation to what the government could afford.”
“It is the economic reality that the unions in Trinidad and Tobago will have to consider in representing their members also what is important to their members but what is important to the socio-economic stability of the country which has implications for their members,” he added.
And as to the march, which was organised by the City Links Sports & Cultural Association, Indarsingh described the march as “very timely” saying these activities “must be sustained if we are to really address this question and highlight the whole scourge of child abuse that takes place throughout Trinidad and Tobago.”
“This is something that must not be swept under the carpet and this is the role that NGO’s and action groups must play in terms of collaborating with the government if we are to address this particular issue,” he said.
“There have been reports of it taking place in my constituency and we have been trying to work with the Social Services Division and counselling division of the Ministry of the People and social development in trying to bring some sense of stability to persons who have become victims and to provide counselling and support to families,” Indarsingh revealed, adding that the deaths of children such as Sean Luke and Amy Annamunthodo must not be allowed to recur.