Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : October 22nd 2015 Contents GAIL ALEXANDER
The People s National Movement (PNM) admin-
istration s planned Police Management Agency and
Police Service Inspectorate are designed to undermine
and compromise the Commissioner of Police and his
executive and allow Government agents through
these agencies to seek control over one of the coercive
arms of the State, Opposition Senator
Wade Mark says.
"This is outrageous, scandalous and
dangerous and would never be sup-
ported by the Opposition People s Part-
nership. We call on the PNM adminis-
tration: Leave the Commissioner of Police
and the Police Service Commission alone,"
Mark added in Tuesday s Senate debate
of the 2016 Budget.
In his return to the Senate and Opposition
Senate bench leader, Mark, who served as
House Speaker during the last administration,
focused on the fiscal measures of what he
termed this "intellectually bankrupt and over-
whelmingly incompetent PNM administration."
He cited negative impact of austerity meas-
ures especially on labour and the working class,
plus the likely effects of the measures on escalating
crime, public security and other areas. He said: "The
2016 Budget is littered with endless distortions, fab-
rications, wild allegations, hysterical ramblings, half
truths and massive deceptions.
"Many measures are designed to begin a
process of redistribution of income, wealth,
resources and power in favour of the rich
and powerful away from society s weak,
voiceless and powerless. We have nothing
against the rich but we stand for equity,
justice and prosperity for all. This Budget is
dangerously misleading. It s an illusion wrapped in the
gift of superficiality...nothing more than a massive
He said analysis of segments on security, which
received the largest allocation, showed absence of
strategic initiatives to stem rising homicide and other
crimes. He noted lack of mention on allocations for
certain Cedros Coast Guard facilities, lack of estab-
lishment of a Coast Guard base in Charlotteville,
Tobago, lack of allocation for purchasing Regiment
vehicles and equipment and reduction of resources for
training canine units. Mark noted sizeable reduction
in allocations to buy/rent/lease police vehicles and
major reduction for training police officers. Mark also
cited Government s intent to establish a Police Man-
agement Agency (to develop leadership expertise, skill
and professionalism) and Police Service Inspectorate
(to treat with potential abuse of state power and over-
reach by the service in discharge of duties).
"These agencies seem to be a duplication of existing
ones, such as the Police Complaints Authority and
Police Training Academy. What s the real purpose and
aim of these agencies? It appears the PNM Government
is seeking to introduce mechanisms designed to influ-
ence and ultimately control the Police Service executive
and bring it under its total control. This is highly dan-
gerous and unacceptable. As an independent organ-
isation, especially in the areas of operations, it s highly
dangerous for the politicians to be using mechanisms
and devices to influence the behaviour, conduct and
direction of the Police Service executive and at the
same time introducing its own sanctions to punish
errant police officers who may abuse and/or overreach
their authority and power...these are matters for the
Police Complaints Authority, the Police Service Com-
mission and CoP."
Mark said Government s property tax would cause
rent, mortgage and utility bill hikes and a drop in
property repairs. He projected job displacement for
workers resulting from the establishment of a Rev-
enue Authority and that workers would also suffer
from gas price hikes and from having 12.5 per
cent VAT being slapped on items which were
PNM seeks control
of Police Service
Mark: Dangerous precedent being set...
Online purchasing which totalled $1 billion over
two years can have a negative impact on T&T s
economy and must be considered in the context of
the demand for foreign exchange, says Independent
Senator Taurel Shrikissoon.
In his maiden address in Tuesday s Senate
2016 Budget debate, Shrikissoon, focusing on
trends, including financial trends, commended
the finance minister for intervening in the foreign
exchange demand issue and advocating a return
to the former system.
But on the bigger picture, he expressed con-
cern about the demand rate for forex in T&T
in view of reports of high levels of online pur-
chasing which over two years cost $1 billion,
putting T&T consumers over the (US)$1.6
million line a day regarding online pur-
chasing. He said that had to be considered
in connection with the forex demand.
Shrikissoon called for attention to finan-
cial trends, noting the 2016 deficit of 13 per
cent of GDP will be the highest ever. T&T has had
continuous deficits over the years which between
2009 and 2015 totalled $34 billion, he added.
He noted that the negative economic situation in
Greece had occurred amid continuous deficits. "I
ask that we pay attention to our expenditure. It
continues to exceed our ability to earn revenue.
The trend is very significant," he said.
Shrikissoon also noted that debt by the end of
2015 had doubled, though revenue earning was
"This runaway horse of expenditure must be caught
and bridled," he said.
While Shrikissoon commended sale of assets, he
said, the challenge with that would be using up the
revenue from that for recent expenditure and "eating
up" the gain. In this regard, he noted the Clico sit-
uation and using the income from that for expenditure
rather than repaying the Clico debt.
He said T&T had been slipping on global com-
petitiveness indices regarding various areas.
Shrikissoon said that needed to improve if T&T
was to further diversification. To aid that thrust, he
recommended that if Government Assistance for
Tuition Expenses (Gate) had to be rationalised, one
way to be considered might include determining the
skills-sets required for T&T to advance and provide
that whether or not students could afford it.
Shrikissoon said that would facilitate meaningful
development in education.
He said while the other areas of the economy,
beside the oil sector, showed signs of "stepping up,"
T&T needed something more immediate than simply
diversifying due to falling oil prices.
Shrikissoon also said places like Princes Town and
other areas should attract diversification development
as well as areas such as northeast Trinidad.
Noting plans for northeast Trinidad---the Toco
ferry port and other initiatives---Shrikissoon ques-
tioned why that method of diversification was only
concentrated in that area.
He said he was a Princes Town resident, living
and working in the area, and wanted to see some
aspects of development in that district, for instance.
He said there were sufficient untapped resources in
such areas through which the situation could be
improved. Shrikissoon said projected revenue would
not be realised from tax increases within the Green
Fund and business levies. He also questioned the
VAT reduction to 12.5 per cent if the two other taxes
were being increased.
"We are reducing a comfortable tax (VAT) when
revenue generation is so important for T&T?" he
Noting that Government is facilitating autonomy
for the Judiciary, to handle matters including pro-
curement and other aspects, Shrikissoon also called
for Government to facilitate similar autonomy for
the Office of the President to handle various matters.
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Thursday, October 22, 2015
Independent Senator warns:
Online shopping can
hurt T&T's economy
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