Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : March 28th 2016 Contents A20 commentary
guardian.co.tt Tuesday, March 28, 2017
CRICKET LOVELY CRICKET?
Cricket in the air. Pakistan
versus the West Indies 20/20.
Nobody interested except rain.
Put stumps down in the Oval
and farmers and buffalo happy.
One of those quicksilver 20:20
Come and go like Ministers of
Health. Big Cabinet Minister one
year, next year yuh is ah DMO in
the Cayman Islands or running a
clinic on the Eastern Main Road.
The 1st ODI in T&T was orig-
inally scheduled for this Friday.
People immediately said "there
goes the Board again, Thursday
is a holiday and they want to play
cricket the day after. Steeuups!"
Suddenly it was changed but not
on the Queen's Park Oval web-
site "Event Calendar" where, as I
write on Sunday morning, it says
international cricket at the Oval
on Friday 31 starting at 9 am and
that's also confusing because the
T&T Guardian says all the starting
times for the three match series,
are 12.30 pm.
Have a feeling this jamming
song is already a classic, going to
be sung all over the world in ump-
teen living rooms, bathrooms,
taxis, fetes, back of buses and
beach parties populated by home-
sick Trinidadians who just could
not take Trinidad and left but cah
get the spirit out of them.
At a function last night, heard
the song played on violins by the
wonderfully talented Xavier sis-
ters and you realise how limited it
is, little room for improvisation.
Ahh, but that chorus line! Too bad
it doesn't have a verse on cricket.
But Carnival season over and
cricket season might be about to
start? You remember when we
had cricket season? And football
season? And dry season? And
wet season? And kite season? And
mango season? And everything
wasn't so jumbled up that no one
knows exactly where we are and
what going on, which is just what
politicians want, more confused
Maybe we'll have a proper
cricket season this year, just in
time for the arrival of a book on
the history of West Indies Cricket
Realise! This is not a book on
, that derogatory
term clever English and Australian
journalists love to use to describe
West Indian cricket whether they
are being blackwashed or not.
This book documents the history
of our cricket through the medi-
um of Calypso.
The book is written by Nasser
Khan, who's made a habit of tell-
ing us in the T&T Guardian ("Food
for Thought, Grow & Eat Local")
about those pesky Caribbean
fruits and vegetables that nobody
wants to eat but which may make
a comeback as forex becomes
It contains 215 cricket-themed
calypsoes from the period 1926
and 2016 and the intent of the
book, as Nasser says, is to "inter-
weave the lyrics of these calyp-
soes...to the players, games, eras
and events of the day."
So the book covers many as-
pects of calypso in cricket. And
it documents the importance of
cricket in the lives of the people of
T&T. From the very first calypso
about cricket by Atilla the Hun,
sung on January 23, 1926: "I went
down to the Oval to see MCC,
versus the Colony," to David Rud-
der's "Cricket, It's Over" in 2007,
where the poet says, "the crowds
are gone and the arenas stand so
silent, where every run, every ris-
ing ball is now a memory," what
else so starkly describes the fall
of cricket in our lives, from the
days when you had was to get to
the Oval before 5 to get in, to the
afternoon last year when me and
a close friend and some security
officers and cleaners were the only
people in the Oval watching T&T
get bowl out.
The book has to be seen to be
treasured. There's the general
history of our cricket complete
with list of the cricketers men-
tioned in calypso and nicknames
of some of the legends like
"Atlas"; "Whispering Death";
"Ninja"; the "Master Blaster" &
"Big Bird" and if you don't know
who those are, you don't know
cricket. Like the time I was sitting
in the Oval pavilion with other
, somebody got out
and the fellow next to me, glass
in hand, jump up screaming and
then turned to his neighbour and
asked, "Boy, what is lbw?"
Calypsoes range from that first
one in 1926 to Houdini's Con-
stantine in 1929, King Radio's
saucy Bodyline ("Oh lord, she go
bowl me bodyline") in 1936 and
Viking's 1947 Chinese Cricket
Match with the incomparable
"Ling King, bowled and caught
by Loong Ping, and Wing Ping
clean bowled by Poon Pang, and
the whole Oval shout, when Loom
Lun get Wang Poon Ping Pang
1950 saw our first ever Test
victory at Lords Cricket ground
and Lord Beginner's Cricket
Lovely Cricket with it's immortal
chorus, "those little pals of mine,
Ramadhin and Valentine" and
there is the description by Lord
Kitchener of what happened af-
ter the victory when he "took his
guitar, called a few West Indians,
and went around the cricket field
singing and dancing" until he got
arrested, was being taken out of
the ground by the policeman until
"the English people boo him" and
he was set free.
The calypsoes come fast and
furious. Spoiler's 1955 Pick Sense
Out of Nonsense; Lord Bryner
and Riot at the Oval in '61; Indian
Cricketers/Gavaskar by Relator
1972; One Day Cricket, 1977 by All
Rounder; Rally Round the West
Indies, David Rudder 1987 and
Rootman's The Prince of Port-of-
Spain from 2007.
Cricket history through calypso.
What an ingenious idea!
...what else so starkly
describes the fall of cricket
in our lives, from the days
when you had was to get to
the Oval before 5 to get in,
to the afternoon last year
when me and a close friend
and some security officers
and cleaners were the only
people in the Oval watching
T&T get bowl out.
THE NON-TAX REVENUE STORY
Much has been made of
the "non tax" revenue
raised in fiscal 2016.
As always, one has to drill deep
behind any data to get the true
The Review of the Economy
(ROTE) reveals that in 2016, the
Ministry of Finance collected
$15.75 billion in non tax revenue
and capital revenue.
This was broken down into
$11.83 billion in non-tax revenue
and $3.91 billion in capital reve-
The question is what was be-
hind these large numbers in 2016.
The largest contributor to non-
tax revenue are profits from State
Enterprises. This accounted for
$5.16 billion or 44 per cent of all
non-tax revenue. This includes
dividends arising out of the Au-
gust/September 2015 Initial Pub-
lic Offering (IPO) of TTNGL.
This IPO had its genesis in the
August 2013 acquisition by the
NGC of Conoco Phillips' 39 per
cent of Phoenix Park Gas Proces-
On the day, the acquisition was
announced, I said that all or part
of the 39 per cent would be made
available to the public. It was a
vision born of the need to see the
link between the financial and
energy sectors strengthened.
It was a vision grounded in
the desire to see the paradigm of
ownership in the energy sector
Against all the odds and in
the face of criticism galore the
TTNGL IPO happened. History
will record that it was roundly
condemned by the PNM in Oppo-
sition who described it as a "fire
Almost two years later the crit-
ics and naysayers are silent. There
is silence too around the FCB
APO which seems to be a damp
The TTNGL IPO would go on
to raise about $1.5 billion for the
NGC. This would have been paid
as a dividend to the Government
and would thus constitute non-
tax revenue that was recognised
in fiscal 2016.
So, the wonderful non tax fig-
ure in fiscal 2016 contains monies
related to the TTNGL IPO.
Another significant contributor
to non-tax revenue in 2016 was
"repayment from past lending."
This figure is $2.68 billion or 22
per cent of non-tax revenue.
This would include monies re-
paid by Trinidad Generation Un-
limited (TGU) to the Government.
In February 2016, the Minister of
Finance, in response to a ques-
tion, informed the Senate that
TGU had repaid the Government
US$300 million and had another
US$251 million outstanding.
In January of this year, Chair-
man of TGU David D'Andrade
said "TGU has repaid its ultimate
shareholder, GoRTT, all the ad-
vances incurred as debt for the
construction of the power facil-
ity totalling US$554 million or
$3.8 billion Trinidad and Tobago
dollars via a series of short-term
It was reported that TGU later
borrowed US$600 million to re-
tire two short-term secured loan
facilities and to complete the re-
payment of the advances made by
Work on all this started under
the former Government.
This brings me to another point
that must now be clarified. A
matter which has been raised on
several occasions is the $1.8 bil-
lion T&TEC loan where the Min-
ister of Finance has stated, inter
alia, that the former Government
burdened the Treasury with short
The facts are that the Gov-
ernment had called on TGU to
repay part of the US$740 million
loaned to it by the Government
for the construction of the 720
megawatt power plant at Union
Industrial Estate in La Brea.
TGU could not raise money to
repay the Government as it was
carrying a huge "accounts receiv-
able" (representing funds owed to
it by T&TEC) on its balance sheet.
T&TEC therefore had to pay off
TGU. To do that T&TEC took a
loan from Republic Bank Limited
This loan paved the way for
TGU to borrow to pay back the
Government and by extension
boost non tax revenue in fiscal
Without this loan, a substantial
part of the non tax revenue which
came in to the Government in
2016 would not have been pos-
The loan which T&TEC raised
was originally structured as a
long-term US dollar loan.
The lender, through no fault of
their own, needed more time to
raise the funds on a long term ba-
sis in US dollars.
It was agreed that they would
therefore provide a short-term
TT$ loan for the equivalent
amount and when the long term
US$ loan was raised, the proceeds
would be sold to the Central
Bank, which would have in-
creased US$ reserves and the TT$
proceeds would have been used to
pay off the short term TT$ loan.
This arrangement was reported in
the Business Guardian on Sunday
August 23, 2015.
Therefore, the figure reported
as non tax revenue collected in
2016 is made up of two signifi-
cant items related to the energy
sector---TTNGL and TGU.
Moving forward, in his last
budget speech, the Minister of
Finance has promised to divest
20 per cent of TGU to pension
funds. He told us that he expected
to raise $600 million from that
We are at the midpoint of the
2017 financial year and we are yet
to hear about this initiative.
I agree with the editor of the
Business Guardian that the Min-
ister can only go on extracting
between $14 and $16 billion in
non-tax and capital revenues for
so long. The reality is that a point
will soon arrive when this is no
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