Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : December 31st 2014 Contents A5
Wednesday, December 31, 2014 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
Faced with falling global energy
prices, Prime Minister Kamla Per-
sad-Bissessar says she will address
the nation on the state of the econ-
omy and the implications of falling
oil and gas prices next week. (See
She also urged the nation not to
panic, saying there will be no job
cuts or removal of social subsidies
in the new year.
The Prime Minister said so in
her New Year s Day address yes-
terday during the government s final
post-Cabinet news conference for
the year at the San Fernando Teach-
She added: "I wish to give the
assurance that there will be no cut
to affect the vulnerable and the
under-privileged as well as health
sector reform and crime fighting.
"The preservation of jobs is high
on our agenda," Persad-Bissessar
assured. She added all social pro-
grammes which assisted the poor
and vulnerable would continue.
Saying she planned to meet with
business groups and other stake-
holders to discuss the implications
of the falling energy prices, Per-
"I look forward with keen interest
to the ideas and suggestions which
the stakeholders and citizens will
share as we deepen our partnership
in the interest of a prosperous and
The Prime Minister said debate
on the Finance Bill would resume
on January 9.
Saying she was not daunted by
the current situation, Persad-
Bissessar said it was not the first
time she dealt with falling energy
"I feel very confident of our abil-
ity to mitigate the impacts of lower
energy prices whilst preserving jobs
and promoting economic growth.
I remain doubly focussed on the
task at hand.
"Attempts to distract my atten-
tion and energies from my respon-
sibility to lead and manage the
affairs of this nation will not deter
me from my goal of a prosperous
and secure nation," Persad-Bissessar
She added when she took office
T&T s financial stability was
"threatened by the $20 billion-plus
Clico debacle and the almost $1
billion HCU fiasco.
"Today as we approach the final
few months of my first term as
Prime Minister, I can say with a lot
of confidence that T&T is in a better
place than when I inherited the
responsibility for its administration,"
She noted that 75 labour agree-
ments have been settled.
She added: "We have tackled the
situation regarding crime and crim-
inals with the level of aggression
and commitment required of us.
"We have used a combination of
laws and operational strategies to
deal with the criminal elements.
"We have also pursued white col-
lar crime and have done what no
administration has done, that is,
we successfully introduced Pro-
Health Minister Dr Fuad Khan,
who also spoke yesterday, said he
had not cut back on expenditure
in his ministry.
Instead, he said, Cabinet had
approved $50 million for the con-
tinuation of the External Patient
Programme which would provide
dental care, cardiac, cataract, urol-
ogy joint replacement, lab and gen-
eral radiological services to the peo-
ple of T&T.
Health Minister Dr Fuad Khan
says he remains suspicious about
why equipment in the public
health institutions continues to
He was commenting on reports
that CT scanners at the San Fer-
nando General Hospital and the
Eric Williams Medical Sciences
Complex were both down, leaving
patients in limbo.
CT scans at private hospitals
are between $1,500 to $2,000 and
involves the use of digital geometry
processing to generate a three-
dimensional (3D) image of the
inside of an object.
Addressing reporters during yes-
terday s post-Cabinet media brief-
ing, Khan admitted to getting
reports that machinery at the Port-
of-Spain General Hospital was
"I am looking at whether we
are paying new prices for refur-
bished machines because the
breakdown rate is a little too high,
compared to those internationally,"
He added that some doctors
were prescribing scans for all
patients rather than engage in a
"A CT scan and MRI is a high-
level radiological examination and
sometimes it is being prescribed
where it is not necessary.
"This increases the volume. MRI
shouldn t take the place of a phys-
ical examination and that is what
is taking place in the emergency
section," Khan revealed.
Since then, Khan said he had
asked consultants to sign off on
every MRI and CT scan that were
done. He also lamented that even
though scans were done the
reports were not forwarded to
patients on time.
On the issue of high absen-
teeism, Khan said indiscriminate
handing out of sick leave was a
matter for the Medical Board.
"I have asked members of all
RHAs to look at anyone who stays
at home and write to them. We
will also keep a log so we can track
who is doing what. We will use a
paper trails to bring the system
into what we want it to be," he
Despite Prime Minister Kamla
Persad-Bissessar s assurance that
there is no need to panic over
falling oil prices, Joint Trade
Union Movement (JTUM) leader
Ancel Roget is cautioning citizens
that all is not well.
Speaking with reporters on Har-
ris Promenade, San Fernando, after
setting up its Anti-Korruption dis-
play, Roget was asked about the
falling oil prices.
He said: "We continue to look
on in awe as to how they speak
from different sides of their mouth
conveniently on this issue.
"When it comes to giving work-
ers a fair and decent wage increase
they quote the falling price of oil
but when it comes to continuing
to support the squandermania and
their giveaways and so on they say
oil price does not affect the econ-
omy and therefore they will con-
tinue with all of their plans and
so on and their budgetary measures
and so on."
Roget, however, said once the
oil price continued to fall it would
impact on the T&T s revenue earn-
"We think that the Government
continues to be very reckless in its
squandermania and its spending
and so on and its giveaways and
try to portray that all is well when
all is anything but well," he added.
Noting that T&T has fallen on
the corruption perception index,
Roget said he believed that once
corruption went unabated T&T s
rating would continue to drop.
Saying that corruption affects
the ability of Government to dis-
pense social amenities to all cit-
izens, he pointed to the San Fer-
nando General Hospital and other
public hospitals which were under-
staffed and lacking resources.
A Claxton Bay family of six will
ring in the New Year homeless
and they are blaming T&TEC
workers for the fire which left
them out on the street with only
the clothes on their backs.
Dhanraj Babute, 48, his 35-year-
old wife Suzette, 35, their three
children---Stefon, 14, Sean, 11 and
Shane, six---along with Dhanraj s
brother Rampersad Babute, 55, are
homeless after their three-bed-
room house at Cedar Hill, Claxton
Bay, was destroyed by fire.
According to residents, T&TEC
workers were in the area all day
yesterday doing work to overhead
lines. Several eyewitnesses said
the workmen were working on the
pole outside of the Babute house
around 3.15 pm when the front
room of the house caught fire.
Luckily, no one was at home at
the time, as the three boys were
staying at their grandmother s
home for the day.
The eyewitnesses say the men
ran away from the scene but
returned several minutes later and
tried to extinguish the fire with a
Dhanraj Babute, a messenger
with AM Marketing Ltd, says he
was on the road when his super-
visor called him with the news.
"I didn t know what to say when
he called. I just asked him, "Is my
house you say?"
Babute is calling on T&TEC to
say why its employees did not alert
the staff at AM or raise any other
alarm. Officers of the Savonetta
Fire Station responded to the scene
within minutes but the house was
already engulfed in flames.
He said the fire started when
electricity was restored to the area
by the workmen.
"You telling me, these men
watch my home burning down
and leave and run?" he asked. "I
want answers, T&TEC have to tell
me how as soon as they put on
the current, my house catch afire."
His wife, Suzette, stood in
shock, clutching her youngest son.
She says this year her family would
have to break years of traditional
New Year s Day celebrations.
"Every year, we go to church on
Old Year s night, I already buy new
shirts and pants for the boys but
right now the only thing we own
is the clothes on we back," she
She is also worried about the
start of the new school term next
"All of their books, their clothes,
shoes, everything gone, I don t
even know what to start to worry
about," she said. "My mother s
52nd birthday is New Year s Day
too. We were planning a party for
her, now look at the state of
Six homeless after
fire in Claxton Bay
Family blaming T&TEC
A T&TEC linesman looks on as the home of Dhanraj Babute is engulfed in
flames at Cedar Hill, Claxton Bay, yesterday.
PM on falling global energy prices:
No need to panic
...But Roget says all is not well
Questions over breakdown of health equipment
The T&T Guardian spoke to
T&TEC workmen on the scene
who denied the claims made by
residents. Engineer Vivian
Narine, who said he was on site
when the fire started, said the
trucks were no where close to
He added: "We were working
on the other side of the Bull-Bull
bridge. We were not in front of
the customer's house. We saw
when the fire started but it came
from a back room in the house
and not the front room."
Narine said he and several
other workmen did try to put out
the fire with a garden hose but
abandoned their efforts when
the fire went out of control.
"I couldn't just let any of my
crew put themselves in life-
threatening danger. We did try to
was too much heat and smoke."
Links Archive December 30th 2014 January 1st 2015 Navigation Previous Page Next Page