Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : October 7th 2017 Contents The red jerseys out-
side of the Parlia-
ment yesterday were
not a complimentary
shade of "PNM Red."
Worn by casino
workers, they were mixed with a
few yellow UNC T-shirts and other
colours as protesters vented feel-
ings on Budget 2018. Among those
who weren't praising UNC MPs or
panning PNM Parliamentarians ar-
riving for Parliament, at least one
placard told the overall story: "Tax,
Tax and More Tax!"
UNC's Devant Maharaj led the
large group to the Parliament
where they hailed out MPs. UNC's
Dr Bhoe Tewarie and colleagues re-
ceived huge applause, big-ups and
assent. Not so PNM Cherrie-Ann
Crichlow-Cockburn and Anthony
The crowd, however, was gener-
ous to PNM's Marlene McDonald.
"We go hire you, Marlene!" several
yelled to the smiling PNM MP.
But: "Booos!" returned the min-
ute they spotted PNM's Fitzgerald
Hinds. He walked the gauntlet with
a toothy grin, chest-thumped salute
and intoning "Great is the PNM" as
he sailed though the door.
PNM's Randall Mitchell, arriving
after, remarked "I wasn't passing
anywhere else---you can't play mas
and fraid powder,"
Theirs wasn't the only "licks"
Government had to swallow.
"Bankrupt, brutal, biased, be-
trayal of the people!" Opposition
Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar de-
clared, iguratively shredding the
And its authors: "Government's
days are numbered---they stable as
Imbert said the Budget was in-
formed by recommendations and
dialogue including with econo-
mists and public policy experts. As
presenter and now perceived (T)
Axman of T&T, he's suffered slings
and arrows of criticism from quar-
ters, with and without agenda.
Yesterday, as Persad-Bissessar
sought to take apart Budget facts,
igures and the PNM's term so
far, House Speaker Bridgid Anni-
sette-George had to twice ask Im-
bert to leave the Chamber ("take
an early lunch") as muttering from
himself, PNM's Stuart Young and
Faris Al-Rawi (who were also asked
to "take a walk") disturbed Per-
Imbert's opinion of T&T operat-
ing on a "false economy" was coun-
tered by Persad-Bissessar's view
that his burden-sharing thrust was
also false. But, offering her own al-
ternatives, she didn't deny T&T
needs new paths.
Between his Budget and Per-
sad-Bissessar's reply, John Public
has 2018 decisions to make. Proba-
bly, literally that amount.
Paragraph Two of Imbert's
speech---lamenting the dif iculty of
Budgeting---could also have sum-
marised the task ahead for T&T:
The story is easier told in the
sizes of the documents for 2018 Esti-
mates of Revenue and for Recurrent
The Recurrent Expenditure Esti-
mate is one inch thick and 1.031 kg.
The Revenue Estimate is one
third inch thick and 0.212kg. Be-
tween them---a $4.76b de icit from
the $50.5b expenditure and $45.7b
Apart from stated measures, also
ahead is property tax, expected
Wasa and TTEC rate hikes and
self-employed professionals "shar-
ing the burden."
Whether Imbert's Budget theme
and the "sharing" effort---a labour
suggestion---results in further costs
or consequences will also unfold.
He's already acknowledged some
2017 plans---property tax, Clico re-
payments ---didn't materialise.
Overall it's a daunting prospect
which could bear out Prime Minis-
ter Keith Rowley's recent warnings:
John Public may certainly have to
forgo certain 2018 plans, crunched
between Government's measures
and those mercenary middlemen
whose bottom-line "principles"
often thwart national systems, in-
terest and public.
While the Opposition will bid to
capitalise politically on negative
public responses to the Budget,
Persad-Bissessar's reply as well as
Imbert's plan---and all else they pro-
duce---will be keenly critiqued from
this mid-term point onwards.
With Budget delivery occurring
during Customer Service Week---
themed on "Building Trust"---it's
now over to the public to plan
ahead and decide what's necessary
in 2018. Including which political
side to believe.
Saturday, October 7, 2017
Head of News Shelly Dass firstname.lastname@example.org
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The past few days, since Monday's Budget, have seen
plenty of soap opera moments. The pantomime over the
"who said what in relation to whom" at the Chamber of
Commerce's post budget debate being just one of them.
The opposition's response and the pretty unimpressive
protest staged yesterday against the budget added to the col-
ourful week we witnessed.
The concern is that all this noise is hiding the more impor-
tant matters related to the budget. Minister of Finance Colm
Imbert is right to say everyone must make sacri ices if we are
to get out of the economic hole we found ourselves in. We
can't agree more.
As we stated soon after the budget was announced, the
problem is that the government seems to have ignored itself.
It's true that overall public spending is forecast to continue
to fall. We praise that.
However, the government remains silent on what else it
should be doing to move us away from an insanely high level
of subsidies (how can we continue to justify subsidising the
equivalent of budget airline prices for fully flexible tickets on
the air bridge?) and the ongoing transfers to barely functional
and usually bloated state-owned enterprises. This must stop.
When the government ixes its own profligacy, poor gov-
ernance and low productivity, then it will be able to claim
the moral high ground over sterile debates and calls for sac-
ri ices elsewhere. And no theatrics will make these problems
go away, either.
On your bus
Just over a week ago, workers at the state bus company
PTSC in San Fernando downed tools following an accident at
its garage which left a worker with a broken leg.
There is no question that Health and Safety in the work-
place must be taken seriously and every business---private
and state-owned---must aim for a zero-accident environment.
And we wish the injured worker full recovery from the acci-
It's troubling, though, that members of the public (the very
same who pay the wages of PTSC's workers through fares
and state transfers) are still without the transport services
they are expected to be provided with.
Scoring for the future
As we continue to lament our national team's disappointing
campaign for the World Cup inals in Russia, spare a
thought to this season's Secondary Schools Football
It's great to see so much quality football and drive by our
young players. If you have a chance, go and see a match.
If you can't, watch it on CNC3. At Guardian Media, we are
proud to be supporting this inspiring competition with such
an inspiring group of young people.
'Make or break'
mid-term for Govt, Opp
San Fernando Girls Government Primary's Aliyah Gabriel performs a piece entitled The Princess of the Forest during
the preliminaries in the dance category at NGC Sanfest at the Creative Arts Centre in San Fernando on Thursday.
PICTURE TONY HOWELL
Princess of the forest
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