The Bandits Association of Trinidad and Tobago (BanATT) was catapulted into mourning and anger yesterday when they learnt the Police took down three of their members. One member of the association who was both not authorized to speak to the media and on the run from Police for some time, lamented how the Bandits were only trying to make the usual dishonest dollar. He said first it was the curfew, and now they have Police Officers that could shoot reasonably straight even in a crisis at 2:00 am. The unofficial spokesperson for BanATT said that the Police officers were equipped with bullet-proof vest, well maintained guns and a regular pay check while the bandits were simply armed with three or four guns, which could effectively kill a few unarmed, law-abiding citizens during a daily robbery but the weapons seem of little use in shootouts with the Police. He lamented this disadvantage and hoped to invest some of the money he will soon get from his new government handout, disguised as a job, in better tools for bandits. The spokesperson said their Association may take the case to the Equal Opportunity Commission as Police seem to be preventing Bandits from carrying out their trade while allowing the law-abiding to make an honest dollar. He stressed the Association has nothing against people making an honest dollar since it was the honest dollar from the man in the street that keeps their members happy and well fed. A similar sentiment was also expressed by CL Financial investors.
Everybody suspected there was big time spying going on in this tiny country of Trinidad and Tobago but what is even more shocking is that the Prophetess couldn’t see what was going on without all the high-tech equipment. Maybe the intelligence work was not for political gain alone but also sold to those gunrunners, drug dealers and kidnappers who people always thought was a big part of the old, voted-out partnership. All those helicopters buzzing about and the Blimp peeping into people’s bedrooms with nice, flashy cameras was not just to satisfy the erotic fantasies of the Master and his Mistress but also for profit. I suspect the people involved in these state-funded, illegal operations have hundreds of millions of ill-gotten US dollars stashed in bank accounts and mattresses around the world and in local financial institutions except CL Financial. Was Duprey and Monteil on the list of those spied on? If so, was Tesheira privy to such privileged information? Seeing how ethical a person she is, I won’t be surprised. Something smells very rotten in Trinidad and Tobago and I believe he made a statement on the issue at a press conference today. Talk about a bold face liar who will obviously spend the rest of his days in Golden Grove. The people can’t wait.
The gasoline and diesel subsidy in Trinidad and Tobago will be about $TT2.7 billion this year and the Government is looking at ways of reducing this subsidy, probably to reduce the national debt, and to pay off rich Clico investors who are itching to use their funds to buy more houses in Florida. The Government is proposing to reduce the fuel subsidy by encouraging the use of Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) once again. Personally, I think this is another pie-in-the-sky plan since CNG has failed to take off in Trinidad and Tobago every time a ruling regime tries to reintroduce its use despite the enormous potential for corruption in its implementation.
If the Government wants to reduce the fuel subsidy there are simpler and less corrupt ways to do it and those ways simply mean people should wake up and smell the lotus flower and drive smart. Driving smart will reduce fuel consumption which means less fuel to subsidize. To drive smart you only need to observe some simple guidelines as follows:
- Don’t drive aggressively or like an idiot. Accelerate slowly even in traffic and never cross the speed limit unless the perfect opportunity to tailgate a speeding ambulance arises. Some say you can improve your gas mileage by as much as 30% by following this rule. You will also be less likely to kill innocent people due to your natural born stupidity.
- Remove excess weight. This would mean not only to encourage your passengers to lose 50 pounds apiece but also the removal of things you mindlessly carry around in the trunk like Tiger Woods autographed golf clubs, wet Speedo swimming trunks and bikinis, crates of bananas, and scaffolding removed from the Gunapo Church site. Depending on the amount of weight you shed, you can improve mileage by 1 or even 2 percent.
- Avoid excessive idling. This would be near impossible if you are into URP, CEPEP, or work at any Government Office that interfaces with the public but every little reduction in idle time will help the economy.
- Buy cars with good fuel economy like the Toyota Corolla with a 1.5 cc VVT engine or the Honda Civic with a 1.6 cc iVTEC engine. There are many other cars with good fuel economy on the market locally but try to avoid those foreign-used cars since most dealers are not honest but have a talent for selling Eskimos ice and politicians corruption. Their public image of honesty can be very deceptive.
- Japanese Prius sales take a slide (businessgreen.com)
- Fossil-Fuel Subsidies Still Dominate (tnr.com)
- Fossil fuel subsidies “dwarf” support for renewables (businessgreen.com)
- Fossil fuel subsidies are 10 times those of renewables, figures show (jamblemag.com)
- Japan’s green-car subsidy comes to a halt; sales of subcompacts dip 12.2% (green.autoblog.com)
The Minister of Budgets
Port of Spain
Dear Fellow Citizens,
If you were one of the lucky ones who were able to see me on TV charm the population with the 2010 budget, you would by now be driving at no more than 80 kmph or resolved to never turn into the Priority Bus Route again. You may even be shopping on Amazon for car seats for your precious but unruly toddlers because it’s cheaper on the Internet. Yes, you would have yielded to commonsense and suddenly understand what is right but mostly you would have realized that your caring Government is serious about your wellbeing and especially your money. And as I said in the Budget:
The Government acknowledges that the current level of lawlessness in our society is unacceptable. We will not waiver from our zero-tolerance posture towards criminal activity: from the traffic violator to the kidnapper, from the white-collar criminal to the drug trafficker, the message to the criminals is simple: you will be found and brought to justice and you will feel the full brunt of the law. The Government will act to eliminate criminal activity at all levels, especially gang related activity and the threat posed by international drug syndicates and their attendants, the money launderers, who threaten not only the physical well being of our citizens but our economic and social fabric.
That was not a joke. I repeat that was not a joke. How many damn times must we say this, eh!
Despite what we have said before and though we say we want to fine you to save you we hope you don’t take us on too seriously this time. Why? Because, little people, we need the fine-money to fix potholes, bridges and CL Financial. So, go ahead and drive on the shoulder like before, speed like Usain Bolt, loosen that seat belt on the sight of an Officer and try not to restrain your children so much. People saying that Police doe catch nobody anyhow, but you must remember we will be redirecting police officers from hiding things in the ceiling, burning evidence and casino vault duty to the more lucrative traffic and insulting-citizens duty. Murder, as you may know by now, can cause grief but we, The Government, don’t find and fine anybody for murder , so why spend money to make none. Besides, if we clamp down on murderers and robbers there will be mass retrenchment in the Security Officers sector and retrenchment can’t win an election especially when people damn fed up with everything.
I hope this little note answers some of the concerns the budget caused. Though we would be running at a big deficit it, as we said before, ain’t our fault. Is de gas and oil price fault.
If a Clico Insurance Agent calls today I would be polite and tell him to sell for another company. What will the Clico Insurance Agent offer customers? Will Agents say how many years Clico was in business before collapsing? Will Agents promise customers peace of mind, stability, security and Government backing? Can the Government appointed Board inspire customer confidence? Will Clico be run like the hospitals or the Ministry of Works? Can Agents promise it won’t?
The Clico Insurance Agent has almost nothing to offer customers other than the past misdeeds of the previous owners. Owners who gambled with people’s pensions and savings. Owners who should be investigated by the police. How can anything on Clico’s website have any importance to today’s buyer. The website is only a piece of history and has nothing to do with the new Government sponsored company. People cannot base any future business on Clico’s boast of the past. On Clico’s website one requirement for potential Insurance Agents is “The Candidate should be free from personal financial problems.” This sounds like a sick joke.
Maybe in a recession people buy more insurance because people think more about suicide and insurance with Clico has a suicidal feel about it. If Clico cannot generate new business would the existing investors and pension fund holders suffer? I don’t know the answers and I am not willing to gamble my money to find out.
Yesterday’s Newsday carried an article which claimed that almost $TT 3 million was spent on drapes for the Prime Minister’s mansion. The title of the article was Manning’s $3M drapes but I felt it should have read Curtains for Patrick. It could be three million for drapes is a steal of a deal in China but in Trinidad and Tobago it seems a little too much. Drapes weren’t the only thing the population paid for but also furniture and bedclothes at $ 7 million. What I had the biggest problem with was the not the drapes, the king size bed or even the $6, 400 nightstands but with the pillow cases at $158 each. I, like nearly all the population, would want the Prime Minister to sleep well but not that well and with my money under his head.
To be fair to the PM, these expenses were incurred at the height of the economic boom and his ego. These spending facts are probably only the tip of the iceberg and it’s only a matter of time before everyone knows how much the executive at UDECOTT is being paid to be inefficient but not corrupt. The economic crunch is just starting to hit Trinidad and Tobago and foreign exchange is already in very short supply. Trinidad and Tobago is very foreign exchange dependent with all these nonproductive mega projects still being paid for in US dollars. Very soon foreign exchange control will be introduced to maintain a reasonable rate with apples and grapes being banned again. Without foreign exchange available to the common man the standard of life in Trinidad and Tobago will be different. People will start to complain as certain foreign items like powdered milk and SUV tires become scarce. I wouldn’t be surprised if there is soon a call by those pretentious Trade Unions and other opportunist to shut the country down for a few days like was done in Guadeloupe recently.
Belt tightening will be forced on the people but to hear it coming from a person as wasteful and insensitive as our Prime Minister just adds fuel to the fire. But if I was the PM I wouldn’t worry too much and Kevin Baldeosingh explained why in his Calypso Critique article. This recession doesn’t look like it will go away anytime soon and with billions of tax payers’ dollars going to the CL Financial bailout there will be less available to quiet the people. If only the Government had some shares to sell…
Could the failure of the Trinidad and Tobago conglomerate CL Financial, the largest financial group in the Caribbean, be the tip of the financial crisis in Trinidad and Tobago and the Caribbean? Is the financial Titanic about to hit? If citizens are asking what the country would be getting for the multibillion dollar Government bailout of CL the answer would be a financial system which has not collapsed. If people are asking why no beefed-up laws were passed to regulate CL Financial when the Central Bank became concerned about their high risk ventures since 2004, the answer would be who knows.
The worst thing a financial institution and system could experience is a run. No financial system could endure a run by its depositors for very long since runs are to banks what silver bullets are to werewolves. Financial systems survive on confidence and the lack of confidence can move from one institution to the next easily like a forest fire in the wind. In the financial world the strong usually pays for the sins of the weak. As ludicrous as it seems right now, the best thing the public could do is be concerned but party. People should leave the financial institutions alone and let the regulators do what has to be done. This is one time where don’t worry be happy might work. The other banks in Trinidad and Tobago are stable and we were told the others never went into those high-risk ventures that CL Financial was prone to undertake. The problem with high-risk financial institutions is that most of the people who invested in them were ignorant to how high risk the ventures were and made the decision to invest based on a glossy brochure an/or an insurance agent – the two least credible sources of the truth.
For Trinidad and Tobago’s and the Caribbean’s sake I hope the valuable assets of CL Financial prove to be valuable. Maybe this is the right time for cash-rich China to step in and acquire a part of Trinidad and Tobago at fire sale prices. Or maybe they will wait for it to burn a little bit more.