Monday 27th August, 2007

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Attic welcomes budget plans

The Association of T&T Insurance Companies (Attic) welcomes Government’s initiatives outlined in the 2008 budget to increase retirement savings, promote safer driving and compensate the innocent victims of uninsured motorists.

The proposed increase in the ceiling of the aggregate deduction that may be claimed for pension plans and annuities from $12,000 to $25,000 will promote long-term planning for retirement for middle income earners.

Many retirees are finding their savings levels inadequate to cope with current levels of inflation and the increased limits will encourage current earners to plan a better financial strategy for their own non-working years.

Attic has been advocating the establishment of a mechanism to compensate the innocent victims of uninsured motorists for well over 20 years alongside the now established Financial Services Ombudsman Scheme and commends the Government for taking the decision to pursue and fund this course of action.

At the same time, Attic wishes to strongly encourage the Government to mitigate against the real possibility that the establishment of such a compensation scheme could further entrench the present lawlessness and encourage more uninsured vehicles on the road.

Attic therefore repeats the urgent call for the increased policing and enforcement of existing laws as well as stiff increases in the penalties for law-breaking such as driving without insurance, driving unregistered “PH” taxis and private rentals, prior to the establishment of such a fund.

To do otherwise will jeopardise not only the proposed funding mechanism but the entire basis of compensation that now exists if there is a perception that there are no real penalties to driving without insurance.

Attic advocates that we should follow what currently obtains in the UK where the police can impound vehicles that are driven without insurance and, if unclaimed by their owners, the vehicles can be disposed of or destroyed after a relatively short period of time.

The proposed changes in legislation to restrict the use of communication devices whilst driving as well as restrictions on television-type monitors that can be viewed from the front seat of vehicles is a welcome first step in what we trust is a series of initiatives to promote safer driving practices.

An estimated 4,000 people suffer bodily injury from vehicle accidents annually. Assuming that ten per cent of vehicles are driven without insurance, then approximately 400 people remain uncompensated every year.

Two large motor insurance companies are now in liquidation and the potential increase in the numbers of innocent victims who would remain uncompensated should they be involved in an accident with these former policyholders is a pressing concern.

The proposed fund can meet a significant proportion of the claims of innocent victims and can be set up so that the fund can itself pursue a court judgment against the negligent party, sending a clear signal to other drivers of uninsured vehicles that there are financial consequences for acts of lawlessness.

Attic looks forward to working with the Government and the Central Bank to set up an efficient mechanism to administer the proposed vehicles accident fund and looks forward to further initiatives by the Government to arrest the spiralling increase in lawlessness on our nation’s roads.

Rani Lakhan-Narace



Crisis days are coming

Imagine gas running out in 12 years and there is no clear plan by the Government to take this country forward.

For a country which depends on this natural resource so much, what are we to do? Brazil, China and others have already begun using alternative methods of fuels, but I have not once heard our Prime Minister utter such words. Is he really a geologist?

What is going to happen to our people? What is Plan B?

Islands which depend on tourism are far better off than us. I predict mass migration to better lands where people feel safe, food is cheaper, you earn more for services rendered, and discrimination is not meted out to anyone because of his or her colour, class or creed.

Since the budget relies heavily on revenue derived from energy, my crystal ball shows mass retrenchment in the private and public sectors. This will lead to social unrest and the devaluation of the dollar.

While energy experts have been stating the facts on our reserves for a number of years now, I realised in the past week that the chairmen of these big oil companies have avoided direct questions from the media on the future of the industry.

A financial crisis looms!

Maybe instead of Guyanese flocking to this country for something better, Trinis would have to go to Guyana for land, food and maybe a better way of life. Who knows?

Nester Pierre


Give budget for Laventille, LFL

THE Laventille For Laventillians political initiative should deliver its own budget for the development of Laventille and surrounding constituencies. This approach would not only provide a comparative analysis with the national budget but will elucidate the thinking of the movement.

The LFL will do well to indicate to residents its plan for infrastructural development, the utilities, social welfare delivery, poverty reduction, unemployment, and crime reduction.

These are the challenges the Government has failed to meet at the end of its tenure in office. These are the challenges this new force must positively confront.

I believe that within the folds of the LFL there is the collective experience, expertise and resourcefulness to adequately meet these imperatives.

Lennox Smith has time and time again demonstrated his prowess in these matters. In fact it is readily accepted that there is none more adept and informed as to what is required for a viable transformation of the area.

His intellectual and ground knowledge of the issues involved are probably incomparable to any other past or present. His personality is amenable and accommodating. Qualities that will be indispensable in this righteous fight for justice, the levelling of the playing field, and a better quality for all residents.

Laventillians must have a chance to do on the PNM as they had us do onto others, that is, “eat them out and vote them out.” No amount of goodies and empty bribery can wash away the evictions, threats of bulldozers and dictum of buying the entire Laventille hill.

Roger Mendoza


Root out those al Qaeda seeds

The recent terror threat to JFK International Airport in New York reminds me how real the threat of terrorism is.

The rogue seeds of terror are planted on the unsuspecting. The danger, or should I say the threat, is that these seeds grow, cluster, and soon dominate where conditions allow.

If left unattended, these seeds grow deep roots, run wild, and finally overrun what is good and what is right.

Those who love Trinidad can’t just sit back and watch this happen. Now is the time to root out these foreign seeds of al Qaeda. They do not belong there, neither will they just go away.

The responsibility is ours, the opportunity is now, to be active and deliberate in not providing seed-plots for these rogue organisations, whose power and terror grew from some seed never rooted out.

J Rodriguez

New York

Passing of two literary icons

The obituaries of August 21 announced the passing of two “gems” whose contributions to the literary community is sincerely appreciated. Ian Ali and Doreen Hamilton Sealy both contributed, in no small way, to the advancement of our citizens.

Ian, in the sphere of art, education and television presentation, and Doreen, the relict of my good friend and colleague, JC Sealy, patron of the foundation and co-founder of The Bookshop.

Many lives have been shaped by these two marvellous individuals who gave unstintingly of their time, talents and resources to ensure a better and brighter nation.

Doreen supported Cliff assiduously in the venture from Marli Street to Frederick Street and also at the UWI St Augustine campus, arranging book talks, book launches and extending hospitality to overseas delegates whenever they came to Trinidad for training at our bookshop courses.

Ian, on the other hand, always hosted book programmes and introduced many budding authors, poets and artists, both at AVM Channel and its successor Channel 4, as well as storytelling at TTT in the Rikki Tikki programme and at our bookshops in Port-of-Spain and Diego Martin.

On behalf of the local book trade I express our gratitude to these two wonderful citizens who shared the gifts God gave them and who in their own vision and dedication moulded the careers of our people.

Grant eternal rest unto them, O Lord.

Terry Cassim

Metropolitan Book Supplies Ltd

Another one lost to the West

Once again we have lost out to the West for one of our national activities, ie, the Independence Day parade.

This parade previously came down Frederick Street and turned into Park Street to the joy the citizens from the surrounding communities—Belmont, Gonzales, Laventille, Downtown—amongst other areas.

Thousands of people with their children lined the route to cheer on the marchers as they passed along. This being the last day of the school vacation, many families then spent the rest of the day picnicking in Memorial Park, with visits to the nearby National Museum, etc.

Carnival, which was born “behind the bridge,” is now housed in the West, with almost no activity taking place on “the greens.”

Emancipation, which has its origins in Gonzales, then Hell Yard, had its main activity this year in the West with no appearance in its traditional areas.

Once again the wild wild West is becoming the capital of the city.

Gerry Hogan

Belmont, PoS

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