Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : August 15th 2015 Contents A product of Guardian Media Ltd
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Sound Off: Towards sustainable, profitable agriculture
• Twitter: @GuardianTT • Web: guardian.co.tt
There appears to be some
official confusion over
the nature of the struc-
tural and other types of defects
at the $500 million state-of-the-
art National Academy for the
Performing Arts (Napa).
Moreover, what remains to be
done to have the building return
to full functionality---a place
where the artistic talent of
Trinidad and Tobago could be
put on full display?
Not for the first time there
have been contradictory state-
ments about the concert hall
built by Chinese contractors at
great cost to the taxpayer. And
once again in making a state-
ment about Napa at the post-
cabinet news conference, Minis-
ter of Arts and Multiculturalism
Dr Lincoln Douglas seemed
unprepared to provide the full
information what is wrong with
the building and what has to be
done to restore it.
When he did speak about the
issue, Minister Douglas men-
tioned a $100 million bill for
However, the details about
what is wrong and what has to
be fixed remain lacking. We
already know that tiles are falling
off the building. To his credit
Minister Douglas said he did not
want to "bamboozle" the nation-
al community about what is
really happening with Napa as he
did not immediately have all the
information at his easy disposal.
He could claim that he wasn't
ready with the details, because a
reporter unexpectedly put him
on the spot, but that's being
"We have done a full engi-
neering evaluation of Napa," Mr.
"That report was sent to the
Cabinet and subsequently to the
Ministry of Works for evaluation
and determination. The Ministry
of Works has advised that the
whole building be shut down."
Confusingly, he described a
building a very bad state, yet he
informed the public that the
school of art would continue to
occupy a part of it.
"There is a school there, the
performance theatre and the
UTT. That is the main part of
the building that is being used
and so we have to exit gradually,"
Mr. Douglas said.
"The plan is to go into the
fixing of all the infrastructure."
If the condition of the build-
ing is as bad and dangerous as
he says it is, why would the
school and other entities contin-
uing to operate there?
We're also told that the Napa
West Wing hotel is advertising
activities in the building.
The State is surely breaking its
own health and safety regula-
tions. There's the risk of the
government having to pay injury
compensation---a risk that the
minister's own assessment makes
The question of whether some
politics is being played seems a
fair one. It has become part of
the political culture of parties to
cast blame on a previous govern-
ment for current difficulties.
The government of the day
continues to give piecemeal and
at times contradictory informa-
tion on this important piece of
cultural infrastructure, and clear-
ly they own the problem.
We suggest that Minister Lin-
coln Douglas keeps his promise
and holds a news conference in
which he will tell all to the
nation about what is one of the
country's most expensive ven-
He should also reveal the
terms and conditions agreed with
the Chinese company, detailing
who is responsible for repairs to
a building of tremendous cost,
and one that is only five years
Apart from everything else,
NAPA is one of the most impor-
tant performing stages in the
Clarity on Napa needed
The government of the day continues to give piecemeal and at
times contradictory information on this important piece of cultural infra-
structure, and clearly they own the problem.
Agriculture minister, Derrick Kellier,
tells us that there is a huge unsatisfied
demand for Jamaica's farm produce in
the United States.
"There are some 52 items on the pre-
clearance list for the import of
agricultural produce into the United
States, and we are currently only
supplying less than a quarter of the
items on the list," Mr Kellier said at a
buyers' mission forum in Kingston
earlier this week.
The minister identified yams
dasheens, sweet potatoes, peppers,
herbs, spices and neutraceuticals
among produce with "serious potential
It's not for nothing that Jamaica is
sometimes referred to as a land of
samples. Despite the long-standing
demand, especially in North America
and Britain, for produce such as named
above, the country -- for all sorts of
reasons -- has never come close to
satisfying those markets.
Obviously, Jamaica has built-in
limitations because of small size. With
the best will in the world, small
mountainous Jamaica will not be able
to compete with larger countries in
Central and South America, for
example, in terms of mass production.
Whatever the reasons, that strong
and abiding perception that the
Jamaican product is superior, provides
tremendous opportunities for niche
marketing using the national brand.
None of what has been said here is
new. It's just that, despite all the talk
down the years, concrete action has
proven slow and difficult.
Of course, there must also be the
value-added projects as production
storage and processing---in the push
towards genuine agro-industrial
economy. But, let's go one step at a
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