Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : September 14th 2013 Contents A27
Saturday, September 14, 2013 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
Scarcely is a budget ever
received with congratula-
tory remarks, save for
those emanating from the camp
from whence the document
came. In my experience views
solicited by the media at this
time are either tinged with dis-
dain or saturated with disgust.
With few measures to set
hearts aflutter, it has been
broadly rubbished from labour
to business. There are some
points, however, which warrant
more profound analysis.
It is the largest fiscal package
in this nation s history, climbing
to just over $60 billion. The
only deficit more troubling than
the projected $6 billion is the
deficit of creative thought.
Few can grumble about the
considerable allocation of near
$10 billion for education.
Investment in the development
of our human capital will serve
the country well in a post-fossil
fuel (or post-apocalyptic) future.
Notwithstanding the infusion of
vast resources in the education
sector, you can rest assured that
several schools will reopen late
at the end of the August holi-
day period next year.
We ve already forgotten, but
education came away with the
lion s share in last year s budget
as well with an allocation of
just over $9 billion. Yet, teach-
ers continue to confront short-
ages of humble staples like
chalk, and a glut of staples like
pigeons and rats.
It is always a question of
management isn t it? Unfortu-
nately, as a fiscal policy docu-
ment, the budget can offer the
public no guidance on whether
these massive financial commit-
ments will be efficiently
deployed. History certainly sug-
gests this will not happen.
There were mild tremors over
the government s removal of the
$300 million fuel subsidy to
Caribbean Airlines. The doom-
sayers predict the immediate
mothballing of all planes.
This need not be the case.
There are many airlines around
the world which remain aloft
without the benefit of subven-
tions. In order to sustain com-
petitiveness the airline will have
to adopt cost cutting measures
now standard throughout the
There will be some discomfort
for passengers, but we will
eventually get used to the pack
of peanuts with exactly ten nuts
and the shot glass of orange
juice. Passengers may have to
wolf down five doubles before
boarding the aircraft.
The baggage regime will likely
be re-examined. Trinis will have
to figure out how to travel
without squeezing the chest of
drawers into a duct tape-ban-
daged coffin of a suitcase. This
would have to be rolled out in
conjunction with route rational-
isation and other streamlining
An important question is, can
the government resist the urge
towards political interference?
Such interventions invariably
weaken the rivets in any man-
agement restructuring plan.
Perhaps the greatest disap-
pointment in the budget was
the paltry allocation for agricul-
ture. Hovering at just above $1
billion, the sector has received
the lowest allocation. That is, of
course, in keeping with tradi-
There is talk about a partner-
ship with Guyana to assist with
meeting this country s food
security needs. There is a wide-
spread, myopic view of agricul-
ture as merely feeding ourselves.
The opportunities are far greater
than those who are blinded by
mediocrity can see.
We proudly lay claim to the
Trinidad Moruga scorpion pep-
per. Apparently that is as far as
we are prepared to take it.
Someone else out there was
happy to take it the rest of the
way for us.
"Meet the new record holder
for the world s hottest pepper!
This fiery morsel averages a
mind-blowing 1.2 million Scov-
ille heat units, with some pep-
pers testing at over 2 million!
Originating from Trinidadian
seeds, these peppers are grown
by small farmers in Taiwan."
This is an extract from the
Web site of a US company
called The Spice House. They
are conducting international
marketing of a product which
was developed in Trinidad and
is being grown in Taiwan. Hey
if we could let the steelpan get
away from us, what the hell is a
There are numerous niche
markets around the world. As
the health-conscious search for
suitable alternatives to gluten,
coconut flour has emerged as a
viable option. Why aren t we
pressing forward with the revi-
talisation of the coconut indus-
try to tap into this growing
trend? Even better, we ve been
processing cassava flour since
the time of the Amerindians;
why aren t we exporting this
product to the world?
No, we will just continue to
cultivate baigan and ponkin and
pay off farmers when their
crops are drowned by floods.
There are so many examples
of where this budget simply
fails the innovation challenge.
There is no measurable evidence
of creative influence in the doc-
ument. This isn t owed to a
paucity of forward-thinking
concepts and ideas in T&T.
These have all been expressed
in print and are replicated in
It is tempting to conclude
that such progressive ideas are
deliberately shunted aside for
the anodyne and politically
Lazy minds have analogised
this budget as a ship set sail on
course avoiding buffeting waves.
However, it has the distinct feel
of a vessel firmly at anchor,
with no particular destination
BUDGET: SLOW AND STEADY OR 'AT ANCHOR'?
"Meet the new record holder for the world's hottest
pepper! This fiery morsel averages a mind-blowing
1.2 million Scoville heat units, with some peppers
testing at over 2 million! Originating from
Trinidadian seeds, these peppers are grown by small
farmers in Taiwan."
Links Archive September 13th 2013 September 15th 2013 Navigation Previous Page Next Page