Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : August 13th 2013 Contents A25
Tuesday, August 13, 2013 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
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Budget must meet
I have just read online from London
that on Monday 9 September, the Min-
ister of Finance, Hon Larry Howai, will
present T&T's national budget in Parlia-
ment. Last year's budget was the coun-
try's largest ever.
Total expenditure of the 2013
Budget was $58.4 billion compared to
$54.6 billion in the 2012 budget. The
theme of the 2012- 2013 budget, deliv-
ered on 1 October 2012 was: Stimulat-
ing Growth, Generating Prosperity.
Who is prospering in TT?
Hon Howai's budget statement last
year included sections that focused on
"Developing Human Capital" and "De-
veloping Quality of Life".
Integral human development is at
the heart of Catholicism---that is, the
development of every person and of
each dimension of the person.
We have a duty to remind those
whom we elect to positions of author-
ity that the resources of the nation are
given to us as a gift from God and
should be shared with all.
A just society is one that demon-
strates that principles of equity, equal-
ity and need, in the context of
distributive justice, inform the budget-
I recall Hon Glenn Ramadharsingh's
words as he made his contribution to
last year's Parliamentary debate on the
He was speaking in his capacity as
Minister of the People and Social Devel-
opment. Inter alia, he said: "I encourage
all; leave behind partisan views so that
we may come together in the true in-
terest of Trinidad and Tobago...above
all, this is a budget for the people."
I am writing this article at this stage
so that all those involved in the budget-
making process this year will genuinely
evaluate whether, after nearly a year,
we can truly say that last year's budget
was a budget for the people of TT.
Each year we continue to witness a
mismatch between the rhetoric of
statements such as the aforemen-
tioned quotation, and the reality on the
ground. In preparing our next budget,
let us honestly reflect on whether our
annual budgets meet the principles of
eg solidarity with the poor and vulnera-
ble, and a commitment to the common
There are moral criteria that our an-
nual budgets should meet. If we fail to
meet these criteria, we will also fail to
create conditions in which each person
can realise his/her potential.
I urge all citizens to offer up prayers
for those preparing the annual budget.
Let us pray that God will inspire them
and that they will be led by their con-
sciences to do what is right, because it
is the right thing to do.
Let us pray also that there will be ac-
countability and transparency in the im-
plementation of the budget. May God
continue to bless our nation.
Chair, Catholic Commission
for Social Justice
Bravo not man
for Red Steel
Our nation has nowhere else to turn
to on matters involving our fast down-
hill cricket slide under Dwayne Bravo's
I am certain today, after his lack of
brain power and mental conditioning in
a leadership position, we endured a
devastating loss last Wednesday night
all because of his very poor judgement
and decision making and at his hands
when he recklessly gave away 26 runs
in the penultimate over.
He is very lucky that this is just a
"game", for had he been employed in
one of the two main local conglomer-
ates he would this morning be looking
for a new career.
It is just so painful to see how a silly
decision can distress the entire cricket
public already devastated by the loss of
eight first team players in this "fran-
Others are benefitting at our ex-
pense and there is nothing we can do.
Team Red Steel, there is need for a
rescue mission and from where I sit he
is not a "fit and proper" person to be
entrusted with the responsibilities of
He is a plain energetic bloke, plain
and simple, devoid of any leadership ca-
pabilities apart from whining on the
stage at Zen.
It's Your Write
be sent to
The move by Caricom to
demand reparations for slav-
ery from the United Kingdom
and other European nations,
which brought people from
Africa to work as slaves on
sugar plantations in their
Caribbean colonies, should be
pursued until the matter is
resolved in the region s inter-
It is only just and when it is
appreciated that the European
colonisers were able to develop
their national economies and
achieve a high level of industri-
alisation and export markets as
a result of slavery, subjugation
and exploitation, Caricom s
thrust is better understood.
Indeed, it was a member of
the French National Assembly,
Bishop Maurey, who would
point out to the Assembly, dur-
ing a debate in 1791, and quoted
on Page 84 of Walter Rodney s
celebrated work, "How Europe
Underdeveloped Africa": "If you
were to lose each year more
than 200 million livres that you
get from your colonies; if you
had not the exclusive trade with
your colonies to feed your man-
ufacturers, to maintain your
navy, to keep your agriculture
going, to pay for your imports,
to provide for your luxury
needs, to advantageously balance
your trade with Europe and
Asia, then I say it clearly, the
kingdom would be irretrievably
An argument employed to jus-
tify the shipping of millions of
Africans to work in the
Caribbean was that they had a
low level of agricultural skills
and were industrially backward.
Instead it has been shown
that many Africans were into
cloth manufacture and there was
considerably cross African trade
in livestock, dairy produce and
salt in exchange for millet (a
cereal) and cloth.
Exports included beeswax,
camwood and ivory.
Despite the volume of inter-
African trade, the superior
weapons of the Europeans, can-
nons, rifles and ammunition,
Meanwhile, the British and
European sugar estate owners in
the Caribbean were only allowed
to produce raw cane sugar for
export to the UK and Europe.
Production of the much high-
er priced refined sugar, where
the major profits lay, was not
allowed, and reserved for the
In Trinidad and Tobago, the
refining of cocoa, for example,
which (the cocoa) would be
grown in large quantities, appre-
ciably later, was not permitted.
It was more than 100 years
after the end of slavery that the
British Government allowed a
sugar refinery to be built, for
example, in Trinidad, at Ste
Madeleine, the first in the
Southern Caribbean. From Ste
Madeleine refined sugar was
shipped to Guyana and Barba-
Although there was refining of
sugar here it was only in rela-
tively small quantities and not
designed to compete with the
UK refiners in the international
In turn, the idea of not allow-
ing, or perhaps encouraging is
the safer term, across the board
refining was reinforced by the
1975 ACP-EEC Convention of
Lome, this long after slavery
Perhaps it should be noted at
this stage that the Government
of Trinidad and Tobago, which
had acquired Caroni Limited in
1975 from a British company,
Tate and Lyle, was allowed to
export raw cane sugar,
"expressed in 69,000 metric
tons of white sugar"
It was a cynical agreement.
But it was this insistence from
the days of slavery and through
the years of colonialism, first of
not permitting and later dis-
couraging the refining process
in all areas, that held back the
economic development of the
The hardest hit of the Cari-
com Member States has been
Haiti, where the slaves had
dared to fight France in the late
18th century for and win their
and their country s freedom.
But France refused to recog-
nise Haiti s freedom and arro-
gated unto itself the right to
reconquer Haiti to compensate
for, among other things, its
"loss" of slaves.
As Trinidad and Tobago s first
Prime Minister, Dr Eric
Williams, tells us in his book
"From Columbus to Castro; The
History of the Caribbean" (Page
409), "Eventually, in 1825,
France agreed to give up all
claims to Haiti in return for an
indemnity of 150 million
francs..." This would plunge
Haiti, already poor, further into
The repayment by France of
this sum, plus interest, should
be factored into any claims by
Caricom for reparations for slav-
ery inter alia.
In turn, this writer would like
to suggest that in addition to
any sums Caricom may insist
on for reparations for Member
States, it should argue for a
Caribbean Basin Initiative like
agreement, under which their
non-energy exports would be
allowed to enter duty free into
the respective former slave own-
ing States for a limited period
of, say, 25 years.
CARICOM MUST PURSUE
GEORGE F ALLEYNE
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