T&T MP: CAL has raised airfares

(Trinidad Express) Caribbean Airlines (CAL), which has received almost TT$2 billion from the People’s Partnership Government, has already raised its airfares.

So claimed People’s National Movement (PNM) Diego Martin North East MP Colm Imbert.

Speaking during the 2013-2014 budget debate on Monday, Imbert said Minister of Finance Larry Howai told the Parliament that he was removing the fuel subsidy on CAL, but failed to say he was providing a $407 million transfer.

Imbert said Government gave CAL TT$427 million in 2013 and TT$726 million in 2012.

He said this was the same airline that had US$150 million (“almost a billion dollars”) in the bank when it was handed over to the People’s Partnership administration in May 2010.

Noting that Howai had given an assurance that fares would not go up, Imbert said: “Go and see what is the price of a ticket to Toronto for Christmas time—TT$9,000!

“Check the price of a ticket to New York—TT$6,000, TT$5,000 to get to Fort Lauderdale. They raise the price already! They think people are stupid.”

Imbert accused Government of fudging the figures.

He said the Review of the Economy of 2010 stated that GDP (gross domestic product) was $91 billion. However, Imbert said, in order to “pretend” that the economy grew under this administration, Government had to “suppress” the GDP figure and “lose TT$2 billion”.

Therefore, Imbert said, the figures in the Review of the Economy 2012 indicate that GDP grew from TT$89.25 billion in 2010 to $91 billion in 2012. He said if one examined the true figure of GDP of TT$91 billion in 2010, it illustrated that the economy declined.

Imbert challenged Howai’s assertion that food prices fell. He said the Review of the Economy 2013 showed that food prices increased by 11.8 per cent in the first six months of the year.

This put paid to Howai’s statement that food prices were reduced by 50 per cent between 2010 to 2013, Imbert said.

The same situation existed with Howai’s claim that unemployment was down.

Imbert said in 2008, 597,700 people were employed and there was 4.6 per cent unemployment, while in 2012, 593,200 were employed and unemployment stood at 5.1 per cent.

“When I went to school, 597,700 was more than 593,200,” Imbert stated.

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