Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : September 1st 2013 Contents A24
letters on sunday Sunday Guardian www.guardian.co.tt September 1, 2013
There is a continued cry for more
help from parents and families
members with people who have
developmental disabilities. Some
organisations in T&T are aware that
there is a lack of services for persons
with developmental disabilities, chil-
dren with special needs, which
include the hearing impaired and
autism, and they have decided to do
whatever they can to improve the
services. Also noted, is that Ecuador
has offered to assist this country
with their disability programme.
The Ministry of Education has
been monitoring this situation
regarding the needs of children for
special education, and has employed
more special education teachers to
teach in different schools. Also, the
Ministry of Social Development has
completed the National Center for
Persons with Disabilities, which is
located at Carlsen Field Chaguanas.
The centre will accommodate per-
sons with disabilities and provide
therapy rooms for patients, and as
quoted by the Minister of Social
Development: "It was a dream come
People with development disabili-
ties in T&T need community-based
programmes which would include
group homes, adult day training cen-
tres, and not an intermediate care
facility, with a fancy name as the
National Center for Persons with
Disabilities, which will encourage an
institutional settings, and bullying.
These people are not patients, and
must live as independently as possi-
ble in their own homes, seeking to
achieve productive lives as close to
normal as possible.
What is a group home?
A group home is a licensed home
within the community that will pro-
vide room and board for six people
with development disabilities. It
must be compliant with fire and
health regulations and must adhere
to the rules and regulations set forth
by the Ministry of Social Develop-
The purpose of group homes is to
provide services to the recipients
residing at the home, and to assist
them in achieving their goals, as
presented by their social worker who
advocates for the recipients.
In a group home setting, staff
must provide a meaningful day of
activities based on his or her choic-
es, interest, skills and talents. The
intent of the group home is to pro-
mote, maintain and restore the
health of persons with disabilities; to
minimise the effect of illness and
disabilities through the provision of
needed supports and services in
order to delay or prevent institution-
alisation, and to foster the principles
of self determination as a foundation
for services and supports.
Recipients residing in a group
home will have a safe place to live,
receive necessary medical and dental
services, receive medically necessary
supplies and equipment, and receive
transportation required to access
necessary services. They will also be
given the opportunity to go on com-
munity outings, going to restaurants,
sporting events and other communi-
ty integrated events.
Adult day training centres
Adult day training centres are
services intended to support the par-
ticipation of people with develop-
mental disabilities in a daily, mean-
ingful, valued routines of the
community, which for adults may
include work-like setting that does
not meet the definition of full-time
The ADT service stress training in
the activities of daily living, self
advocacy, adaptive skills and social
skills and are age-culturally appro-
priate. These services are expected to
achieve goals defined by each person
with developmental disabilities, and
to attain and support participation in
a less restrictive setting.
The routines established for this
training programme shall be mean-
ingful, and provide an appropriate
level of variation and interest. An
ADT, must also be licensed by the
Ministry of Social Development, and
must adhere to the rules and regula-
tions set forth by the said ministry.
There are other programmes and
services that will be valuable to per-
sons with developmental disabilities
however, the programmes mentioned
above, should be use as pilot pro-
grammes at this time.
As the day approaches when Mr Larry Howai will
present the 2013-2014 budget I hope he will begin
the process of cutting away the useless fat from our an-
nual expenditures. The starting point should be that we
don't need and can't afford any more $51 billion budg-
ets. He has examples a plenty from around the world of
countries that spent their way into unmanageable debt.
We for the last five to six years or more have been
trying our best to bring the same ruin to T&T. Every
country so afflicted had been living way above their
means leaving the debts (they thought) to someone
later to fix. We similarly live above our means and pre-
tend that the way to justify deficits and the consequent
debt is to relate it to "GDP." With this measure we are
told we have no problem with current debt levels. But if
the GDP falls---like when the price or quantity of gas or
oil falls---suddenly we don't have that wonderful GDP
any more and our ratio of debt to GDP suddenly looks
To get into this state we busily build up unnecessary
cost for unnecessary projects which of course are fol-
lowed by unnecessary maintenance and operation
costs. We fail to maintain so the country falls apart.
Any attempt to reduce the ridiculous spending must
be led from the top.
Here are my suggestions for cutting out the non-
sense from our budgets:
1) Reduce the number of ministries to a practical,
manageable level. Obvious candidates for culling, abol-
ishing, or absorbing into other ministries are: Arts and
Multiculturalism, Community Development, Gender,
Youth and Child development, National Diversity and
Social Integration, People and Social Development, Sci-
ence and Technology, Tobago Development, THA.
We do not need three ministries for law (Attorney
General, Legal Affairs, Justice). Remember each of
these need ministers, their own staffing, headquarters,
vehicles, PR machine, and they have to invent things
that they appear to be doing.
2) Reduce the number of state enterprises. No coun-
try the size of T&T needs 130 state-owned enterprises
to conduct the nation's business. Practically all of the
state companies duplicate functions normally expected
of the civil service, which has not been reduced as a
consequence of the creation of the state enterprise.
Again each has a politically appointed board, chairmen,
executives, offices, SUVs, PR departments, and a more
or less guaranteed incompetence cause by political in-
fluence. Vast quantities of public funds money disap-
pear into these companies as "subsidies and transfers"
and they belatedly produce accounts to pretend they
are profitable. How can an entity pretend to profit when
all revenue and capital is handed to them on a state
3) Either abolish or consolidate the Regional Health
Authorities into one. There is no need for multiple
health authorities for 1.3 million people. So what does
the Ministry of Health do? There is no need for both.
4) Shut down CEPEP and URP. Put the necessary
work back into the management of local government
who will handle it with competitive contracting. This
move will take idlers off the state payroll and start the
re-indoctrination of the concept of honest work for an
honest day's pay. The loss of this concept fuels crime
and destroys our competitiveness.
5) Introduce legislation on campaign funding. For
goodness sake draft it in an enforceable manner. This
will reduce that blatant corruption we experience daily
of over-priced contracts with "friendly" contractors and
shocking in-your-face assaults on the national con-
science such as $6.8 million to pull a beyond-repair fire
water tender 30 feet up a small slope.
6) Cull national projects. Make them pass a needs,
cost effectiveness and "affect on future recurrent
budget" test which will also examine the intended loca-
tion. Publish the results for comment. I doubt the Chil-
dren's Hospital in Couva or the Penal Law Campus or
any Laventille cable cars would pass these tests.
7) Study and rationalise the army and coastguard.
Exactly how much do we need these, and how much do
we control their expenditures? If the police needs army
assistance why not expand the police?
8) Introduce the long-awaited procurement regula-
The list could obviously be much longer, but the mes-
sage is simply cut government size and government in-
fluence and cost drastically. Let the private sector do
most things via properly tendered transparent proce-
Obvious measures for more efficient government
and revenue collection include:
a) Re-introduce property taxes in an equitable man-
ner. Nobody should pay higher rates because they hap-
pen to live among wealthy folk. The rates should be
influenced by the value of the building and cost of the
services provided such as garbage collection, road re-
pairs, and any public service benefits.
b) Cut the fuel subsidies. Make it phased, but make it
c) Abolish the nuisance taxes---Green Fund and Busi-
ness Levy and improve the revenue collection functions
of the BIR.
d) Revise EMA legislation to produce a practical and
functional body that must by law work with the police,
and the police work with them. Joint missions should be
possible to root out illegal quarrying and noise pollution
at any time night or day.
Of course I do not think any of these suggestions will
be implemented and if they were there would have to
be careful co-ordination and planning to ensure the vast
numbers of employees, "eat a fooders," and lochos put
out of work would find a place in the private capital ven-
tures that would perform the tasks. There would be a
high probability of union and civil unrest.
Any government attempting the above would almost
certainly lose the next election. But they are all neces-
sary, they all will come with time. Either we start them
or wait until we are bankrupt and go to the IMF for help,
who will impose them anyway.
For my money I'd like to see a government start the
changes now, even at the cost of the next election,
which seems quite likely for the present one in power.
The Point Fortin highway project and
more specifically the Debe to Mon
Desir segment would not have got con-
tentious if the monetary compensation
was fair, adequate and encouraging. Any
expat who is asked to relocate is nor-
mally offered inducements to so do. Why
aren't our own citizens treated likewise?
They are not moving voluntarily but
are forced to. This fact alone should be
enough for the government to improve
all offers. Many of the affected home-
owners are feeling that they are being
"robbed" of their properties by this ad-
The offers do not truly reflect market
value and as is the norm with this gov-
ernment, hard working law abiding citi-
zens are relegated to last while money is
given freely to countless social services
and make-work programmes.
What value can you put on commu-
nity and village life? What about the
stress of rebuilding and relocating, espe-
cially for the elderly?
Some of these people took a lifetime
to build their homes, what of these peo-
ple's sacrifices? What becomes of busi-
nesses that are being forced to close,
and the workers employed therein?
What about the future earnings of the
If the offers were good or even decent,
many of these homeowners would have
left happily and quietly without as much
as a squeak.
An army vehicle carries a helicopter belonging to the National Security Operations Centre air division on a
mobile helicopter landing pad during the Independence Day parade at the Queen's Park Savannah, Port-of-
Spain, yesterday. PHOTO: NICOLE DRAYTON
CREATE GROUP HOMES FOR
PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES PARADE SPOTLIGHT
Cut out the fat from budget
Homeowners feel robbed in highway project
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