Leader of the Opposition, Kamla Persad-Bissessar SC MP, during her response to Budget 2021, on Friday 9 October 2020. (Image courtesy Parliament of Trinidad and Tobago)

Former Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition, Kamla Persad-Bissessar SC MP, has challenged the Rowley Administration to take a five percent cut in their salaries, to show solidarity with the poor and struggling citizens of Trinidad and Tobago.

The Opposition Leader made the appeal as part of her opening comments during her three hour response today, to the 2021 Budget Presentation by the Finance Minister.

Mrs Persad-Bissessar noted that under her Peoples Partnership Administration, she and members of Government gave 10 percent of their salaries to the Children’s Life Fund, which they created in 2010 through an Act of Parliament.

She called on Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley and his government to show those citizens struggling under the current economic crisis—which has been exacerbated by the current COVID-19 pandemic—that they understand their plight, by taking a pay cut.

During the first hour of her presentation this morning, Mrs Persad-Bissessar pointed to the thousands of persons who were put on the breadline by T&T’s economic woes even before COVID-19 came to these shores. She made particular reference to those workers in the energy sector who would have lost their jobs during the past five years, expressing concern that the working class and middle class have been battered because of bad PNM policies.

She also called on Government to consider drafting new legislation that reflect the realities of today’s world, where working from home is rapidly becoming the norm. She urged that more protection for workers’ rights and lives be drafted, to reduce the likelihood of exploitation and further job cuts and retrenchment.

The Opposition Leader advised that Government meet with employers and workers representatives to chart a new way forward for the labour market in T&T.