Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : May 7th 2017 Contents A24 letters on sunday
guardian.co.tt Sunday, May 7, 2017
HELL OR HIGH WATER
What appears certain is that the
Government intends to impose
property tax come hell or high
water in an effort to raise revenue
of some $500 million or roughly half
a billion dollars.
In the meantime, there is quite a
bit of posturing in and out of Parlia-
ment on the merits or demerits of
this measure and, indeed, some pro-
tests have already begun to be
mounted by the current Opposition
which seems diametrically opposed
to this measure.
What is certain, however, is that
when the tax should kick in, it shall
have a ripple effect in that the dis-
posable income (income after tax)
of some individuals will decline/fall.
Residential clients will have less in-
come for spending or saving.
Landlords will most likely pass on
increases in costs in the form of in-
creased rents for property and in-
dustrial clients who suffer an
increase in operating cost will no
doubt pass it down the value chain
in the form of higher prices.
If these expected increases in
prices were linear or straight-line
the effect could have been mini-
mised, but in reality this is not how
it works. Imagine that demand for a
particular product increases by ten
per cent and a small firm currently
has one machine which makes this
This ten per cent increase in de-
mand might force the firm to ac-
quire an additional machine in an
effort to meet the increased de-
mand and maintain its share of the
Therefore, a ten per cent increase
in demand has resulted in a 100 per
cent increase in investment. Using
the same analogy, an increase in
cost shall not have a linear effect
but a multiplier effect and cause a
general increase in the price level.
If we follow the money, although
trade unions/employees enjoyed
handsome increases in wages and
salaries recently, we can expect any
increase in the retail price index/
cost of living to be countered by
trade unions who most likely will
begin to clamour for higher wages
and salaries to meet the increase in
the price level and the vicious circle
to continue with no end in sight.
Government has a macro obliga-
tion to control inflation, to keep un-
employment down to a minimum
and to grow the economy.
Increases in direct taxation, as
outlined above, has the potential to
cause a general increase in prices
and in the absence of some kind of
wage/salary freeze cause the econ-
omy to spin out of control.
There is no point in increasing
taxes on the income side in an ef-
fort to raise revenue while causing
prices and incomes to rise on the
expenditure side. Using local termi-
nology, this amounts to spinning
top in mud.
Government needs to communi-
cate more effectively that it cannot
be business as usual; that commod-
ity prices (oil/gas) are depressed at
this time and shall continue to be so
at least in the medium term; that
everyone needs to share the burden
of adjustment but at the same time
appear to be fair and equitable.
It must trim the fat by cutting
out waste in the system while si-
multaneously controlling inflation
and minimising unemployment.
This can be achieved by clogging
the leakages in the system of VAT
collection, which although being an
indirect tax, which some claim is
skewed in favour of the rich, gives
one a choice in terms of what to
purchase and how much, but de-
pends on the volume of transac-
tions for increases in revenue
IS WASA MONITORING
I heard the Honourable Prime
Minister Rowley touch on services
of the Water and Sewage Author-
ity (WASA) in his address in Diego
At that meeting, the prime min-
ister also told the national commu-
nity that the cost of supplying
water, to every property receiving
it, was heavily subsidised and that
WASA was in debt to the tune of
hundreds of millions of dollars.
If one were to methodically
think things through, the logical
question ought to be how does
WASA manage an essential service
without the benefit of liquidity to
service its debt, and raise capital to
replace its ageing infrastructure in
the presence of irate citizens?
Case in point. In the residential
district of Port-of-Spain North,
there are at least two develop-
ments taking place, one highly
questionable land development and
a building development, within me-
ters of each other, a short distance
behind the prime minister's resi-
Transportation access along the
two sites is long and winding on
the old and narrow road under
which WASA communication pipes
In the instance of the land devel-
opment, ongoing for several years,
front and backhoe loaders, bulldoz-
ers and dump truck having been
'licking up' this particular road, un-
dermining the integrity of the un-
derground ageing WASA pipes,
leading to environmental degrada-
tion, to the extent that it appears
that there is no relief for residents
of the area from busted water
mains from dump trucks going
onto and leaving this development
site even after WASA repairs the
problem repeatedly. Is WASA moni-
toring public roads leading to de-
velopment sites, legally bringing
freeloaders to heel?
On the matter of new, illegal or
illegal building development and
rentals of units, the overarching
question for WASA is, what is the
authority's response to the carrying
capacity of its product and services
in areas that are obviously over
populated but handled corruptly by
other relevant agencies of state,
and consequences of new property
development on its network of ma-
terially affected ageing equipment?
CXC FAILING CHILDREN
The Secondary Entrance Assess-
ment was introduced in 2001 to re-
place the Common Entrance
Any rational individual that com-
pares the examination then and
now, will come to the conclusion
that it has significantly increased in
its level of difficulty.
The amazing thing is, however, in
2001, 75 minutes were allotted to
both Math and Language and to this
day, that time has not changed. This
in itself has precipitated great levels
of frustration because children are
being trained to take 30 seconds to
solve a question in section one; four
minutes per three-part question in
section three; and one minute 30
seconds per question in section two.
A week before the exam, some
children still experience difficulty
completing a booklet.
Couple the aforementioned with
the conditions of a national exam-
ination, as well as a faulty paper.
In this year's paper, questions 3
and 4 in Language read:
Rewrite EACH of the following
sentences using the POSSESSIVE
form of the UNDERLINED WORDS
in each sentence.
3) The ruler belonging to Meera
was hidden under the desk.
4) The parents Aidan and Judy
are on vacation in Tobago.
Error---Nothing was underlined.
In Math question 34, the worded
dimensions given for the triangle did
not match the diagram provided.
Yes , the children could have de-
duced the answers , but that is NOT
Children came out of the examina-
tion rooms crying, screaming , un-
able to pull themselves together
because (1) the examination was
heavily worded and (2) the faulty
questions implanted doubt in the
minds of those who are not above
Children are taught that educa-
tional testing results can open or
close doors of opportunity.
State testing programmes in the
primary school influences the type
of secondary education one receives,
and so many of our children felt like
an utter failure and lost all interest
in the Language paper which was
How can this examination be
deemed fair to all? Why hasn't the
Government allotted at least 15 min-
utes more per examination?
Can children complete a plan, edit-
ing and final draft of a Creative Writ-
ing task in 50 minutes comfortably?
The Ministry of Education and
CXC have failed our children once
The above average children will
continue to attain placement in the
higher ordered schools and yearly,
our children will undergo levels of
Assessment at a national level
needs to be accumulative starting
from Standard 1 to Standard 5. All
must not depend on ONE major ex-
amination. Wake up, Mr Minister, we
need a change now!
Jab Jabs parade through the streets during Point Fortin Borough Day, J'Ouvert celebrations yesterday.
PHOTO: KRISTIAN DESILVA
POINT JAB JAB
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