Moonilal hits Government’s out-of-touch comments – Humble yourselves

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Oropouche East MP Dr Roodal Moonilal. FILE PHOTO –

AFTER a week of major public backlash and condemnation for several government ministers for their comments in defence of the budget, Opposition MP Roodal Moonilal called on the Government to be humble and mindful of a stressed-out and struggling society.

The series of comments, deemed by the public as being out of touch, began last Monday, when the Prime Minister said this country’s public sector is not ready for a “major work-from-home policy.”

People became outraged at Dr Rowley’s comment, as the increase in fuel prices caused consternation and people thought government would have reconsidered remote working to reduce road traffic and allow people to save money.

Next was Sport Minister Shamfa Cudjoe, who urged people to sacrifice for the future generations.

“We sit here healthy and strong, looking good, well-fed because somebody else had to sacrifice then, so that we can have now. So then why is it so hard now for us to sacrifice for the young children who are coming up?”

Many felt government ministers – who enjoy many perks including housing allowances, travel allowances, tax exemptions on new vehicles, cellphones and internet paid by taxpayers, etc – should not tell ordinary citizens to make sacrifices.

Public Utilities Minister Marvin Gonzales was up next, when he suggested people cut back on eating ham and macaroni pie.

He said, “We may have to call our families together around a table and say, ‘You know what? We may not be able to bake ham every month or make macaroni pie. We may have to cut back.'”

Then came Trade Minister Paula Gopee-Scoon, who said the (Public Transport Service Commission) PTSC bus schedule is “fairly efficient,” adding that she “never heard the public complain about buses not coming.”

Finally, Port of Spain South MP Keith Scotland urged people to ride bicycles if they could not afford fuel any more after the fuel price increases. He also suggested using a coal pot to reduce the amount of money spent on cooking gas.

“Madam Speaker, I still have a coal pot. You know, where I put my coals and roast my breadfruit. So if you don’t have that, go back until such time as you can afford the gas. But don’t come and blame you not having gas on the government,” Scotland said.

Arrogance will be their downfall

Speaking in Parliament on Tuesday, Moonilal said it was ironic Finance Minister Colm Imbert focused so heavily on advanced digitalisation as his “centrepiece of development,” only for Scotland to say later on, “Look here, given all this crisis, we can go back to the coal pot.”

He also mentioned Gonzales’ macaroni pie comment and Cudjoe’s sacrifice call.

“They have an arrogance about them. Their downfall – which will come sooner rather than later – will be related not only to misconduct, incompetence, corruption and so on, it will be related to arrogance,” Moonilal said.

He said he wanted Cudjoe and other ministers to know: “Today you are a VIP, tomorrow you are just a P – a person.

“Don’t carry about yourselves with the arrogance that you will be minister forever. You know it have a song (that says) you will be single forever? You will not be minister forever.”

He said if they continue with that attitude, they may not even be able to walk the streets without being heckled by the public.

“You will have to walk in the sky. People will not allow you to pass in peace without telling you of their grievances.”

He also sought to know how many members of the government have state security, bodyguards and police escorts. He said it is “incomprehensible” that some ministers whose ministries are not “traditionally targeted” have so many types of security detail.

“You get all this security guard and bodyguard, and you forget the citizens themselves face the criminal elements without VIP security.”

He told the public to pay attention, as these are the people who, “frighteningly,” make up the Cabinet.