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George Chambers

1/12

2nd Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago.

From the 30 March 1981 – 18 December 1986

Born on the 4th October 1928.

Died on the 4th November 1997.

Attended Nelson Street Boys RC School

Burke's College

Osmond High School

Married to Juliana Jacobs

Joined the People's National Movement (PNM) in 1956.

Was elected to the Parliament representing the St. Ann's East seat.

He was the Assistant General Secretary of the PNM.

Was one of three Deputy Leaders of the PNM.

Was the Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Finance in 1966.

He also Served as Minister of Finance,

Minister of Public Utilities,

Minister of Housing,

Minister of National Security,

Minister of Education,

Minister of Planning,

Minister of Industry/Commerce,

and  Minister of Agriculture.

On March 30th, days after the death of Prime Minister Eric Williams, he was summoned to the President's House, with the other two PNM deputies, Kamal Mohammed and Errol Mahabir. He was appointed Prime Minister by then-President Ellis Clarke. He was latere told that he had been chosen to succeed  Eric Williams.

He led the PNM to victory in the 1981 General Elections.

In 1982, the government had implemented the following budgetary measures:

*A 10% cut in salaries of all public servants.

*A slash in all government subsidies to public utilities (water, electricity, telephone, bus fares).

* Elimination of personal income tax relief and allowances.

*House rates, fire insurance taxes and maintenance repairs were no longer allowed.

*Reduction of corporation tax from a maximum of 49.5% to a consolidation of 45%.

*Abolition of tax-free bonds, credit union/co-op shares and Unit Trust deductions.

*Phased reduction of the Negative List.

*Non-charitable deeds of covenant on or before 23rd January 1987 no longer allowed.

*A limitation on employment expense deductions.

*A 100% increase in postage for all mail, both internal and external.

*University of the West Indies students were required to pay 10% of their tuition costs for the next two years.previously students did not pay tuition).

Due to the fall in oil prices and the decline in oil productivity, he sought for new ways to create revenue. But the flow of illegal immigrants from the smaller islands, seeking a better education, health and an overall higher standard of living. Led to the emergence of shanty towns on the outskirts of Port of Spain and San Fernando, and the government had to divert resources towards the eviction or extension of social services.

As Prime Minister and Chairman of CARICOM, he refused to collaborate with the United States regarding the invasion of Grenada on the 25th October 1983. Trinidad and Tobago was left out of the "urgent request" to then U.S. President Ronald Reagan.

His statement to the Parliament on 26th October 1983:

"To date, I have received no notification from any CARICOM member country of any intention to request assistance from the government of the United states to intervene militarily in Grenada nor have I been informed by any CARICOM member country that such a request had in fact been made".

Because he stood up to the might of the United States, Trinidad and Tobago faced retaliation. The U.S. controlled International Monetary Fund (IMF) imposed severe, conditionality measures on a US$100m loan to the government. 

The Public Service Association (PSA) President Dr. Kenrick Rennie, warned that because of this the union membership would be the ones who would bear the brunt of the IMF measures.

The citizenry was furious, Public servants took to the streets to protest the government actions. They had gotten the support from the Council of Progressive Trade Unions (CPTU) who said that the government's decision was an illegal interference with the free collective bargaining process and a violation of the International Labour Convention. They also said that "the budget was exploitative, oppressive and have been imposed on the backs of workers, farmers, teachers, public servants, daily paid workers, small businesses, underemployed and middl-income workers in society."

The labour movement began to organize a mass mobilization programme against the budget. A nation-wide "day of resistance" during which 82% of public sector workers stayed away from work, 75% of workers in the private sector refused to go to work and 65% of teachers stayed home.

Dr. Karl Levitt an internationally recognized economist, reported that there were statistical irregularities in the IMF's Staff Report on the Trinidad and Tobago economy, and there might have been a deliberate manipulation of the statistical data in order to impose the conditionalities on Trinidad and Tobago.

He led PNM to its worst ever electoral defeat in 1986, he stepped down as political leader and retired from active politics, giving way to Patrick Manning.