Finance Minister Colm Imbert has hit out against five economists and commentators, who he says are not fair and unbiased in their pronouncements on the economy and performance of the government.
Minister Imbert took aim at Roger Hosein, Indera Sagewan-Alli, Mariano Browne, Marla Dukharan and Patrick Watson, as he was wrapping up debate on the Mid-Year Review around 1 am Friday morning.
He told the House that their commentary on the economy could not be seen as unbiased because of political and other affiliations.
"Roger Hosein was associated with multi-million contracts flowing from the Ministry of Planning and Development when the Member for Caroni Central (Dr Bhoe Tewarie) was the minister," Imbert said.
"When you have somebody like that who was a beneficiary of UNC largesse who is coming out to talk in contradiction to anything said by this PNM administration, you have to take these people with a pinch of salt," he added.
The Minister then turned his focus on economist Indera Sagewan-Alli.
"When you have a person like Indera Sagewan Alli, when I was a Member of Parliament in the first Manning administration, I sat here and Indera Sagewan Alli sat there in the Red House. She was a UNC MP. The fact of the matter is, I looked across the other side of the Parliament and saw Indera Sagewan Alli as an Opposition MP and now I have to listen to people like that talking as unbiased, neutral, dispassionate commentators," he said.
Minister Imbert said the Opposition should not quote an economist who was a consultant to the UNC or a former UNC MP, as a credible and neutral person.
"They have no facts. They just talk," he said.
He continued: "As for Mariano Browne. when we were doing the liquidation of CL Financial, Mariano Browne surfaced on the other side working against the government of Trinidad and Tobago, trying to prevent taxpayers from getting back the $23 billion that was put into the Clico bailout. And yes, I can say this without fear of contradiction, that when we on this side, trying to protect and preserve the taxpayers $23 billion, when we are there trying to deal with CL Financial who is trying to get out of a situation and walk away with taxpayers assets, who do we see working on the other side, against the government and against the taxpayers of this country, Mariano Browne. I'm not ashamed to say it and you would come and call Mariano Browne's name for me here tonight, that's what you're gonna do?"
Minister Imbert's next focus was on Marla Dukharan, whom he described as "Miss Bitcoin" but he was stopped from going further as the Speaker rose to her feet to inform him that his initial speaking time was over.
When Minister Imbert got back up to continue under additional time, he continued: "Let me repeat. One got money from the UNC, one was a UNC MP, one worked against the government and the people of Trinidad and Tobago with the CL shareholders to try and deprive the country of that $23 billion and one is trying to peddle crypto-currency in Trinidad and Tobago. I'm sorry, I must listen to them? Come better than that. Come with somebody with credibility please."
Patrick Watson was next in line but got the least of the Minister's time.
"Patrick Watson, the deputy leader of the Congress of the People. This is what we're dealing with madame speaker. If it's not COP and it's not UNC and it's not ULF," he said as he dismissed Watson as a credible commentator.
As he closed off the debate, the Minister told the House that when his government had told the country of the state of the economy, the Opposition insisted that they should not spread "gloom and doom" and should offer hope to the people.
"Now you come and say all these things about the economy turning around and they say stop giving people false hope. They are deadly scared. We have two more mid-year reviews and two more budgets. We're now in the middle of the term and things are beginning to look better. Panic is setting in on the other side," he said.
He added: "If we are in the middle and the country is stabalising, what will happen in the budget of this year? What will happen if I say we have met our projections? They will get heart attacks. We will have to call the medics. You will have to bring Limeacol and Panadol for them madame speaker. You will have to sap their heads."
The motion to adopt the report of the Standing Finance Committee was passed in the House around 1.15 am.