Sunday 9th September, 2007

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King: Devaluation talk was a ‘what-if’ scenario

In reporting my presentation on the Budget to the Senate two daily newspapers of September 4 claimed that I warned that Government’s expenditure could put pressure on the country’s exchange rate and this could result in the devaluation of the TT dollar if there was a move towards a wealth-driven economy.

This would force a devaluation of the TT currency since the Central Bank would not have US$2 billion (sold to the local market in 2006-2007) to play with but a little as over US$1.2 billion.

However, in the Senate on Tuesday, Senator Rennie Dumas said he was disappointed that my contention was not supported by solid information.

Also, Senator Sahadeo claimed there was now no threat to the value of the TT dollar.

Further, the Governor of the Central Bank as reported in the media, said the exchange rate is reasonably stable because in addition to the Heritage Stability Fund we have reserves of over $6 billion, almost one year of imports. Also, according to him, some analysts saw an appreciation instead.

The thesis of my presentation in the Senate was that the Government appeared capable of managing the deterministic aspects of economic growth but has not begun to address the non-deterministic aspects, risks, of economic development.

As an example of a “what if” I quoted an economist who suggested that a reasonable successor to our resource based economy after the petroleum was depleted was a wealth driven one, without the development of the on-shore sector, in which we would have saved enough to live off the interest forever.

In my analysis of this suggestion I demonstrated (Senator Dumas note) that we would need to have saved some US$26 billion by the year 2020 and to do this at a return of nine per cent at present value under the existing circumstances we would have to save some US$1.4 billion per year leaving the Central Bank with just US$1.2 billion to support the demand of the local market.

Since the present demand of the local market was today US$2.09 billion up from US$700 million some four years ago, then with the present TT dollar spending of the Government either we go back to rationing foreign exchange, drive the interest rates so high or, as I stated, see the dollar devalue.

I made this “what if” analysis to demonstrate that a wealth driven economy on its own, besides its inefficiencies as Prof Porter describes, is incapable of driving economic development in this country and would drive a devaluation of the TT dollar.

I used this example to make the point that economic development depends on the creation of an on-shore economy that produces tradable goods and services.

Senator Mary King

Santa Margarita

United they stand, divided they fall

When will the UNC and COP wake up to the obvious fact that they will lose divided but will win united?

The recent Nacta poll has simply confirmed this. And Patrick Manning has gratuitously given them some time to re-consider either a pre-election alliance or a post accommodation, thanks to his misplaced pocket and some pockets of resistance to him.

The COP by itself will repeat the ONR 1981 debacle—100,000 votes but not a damn seat for them! The UNC/COP united will revisit the 1986 NAR euphoria without the subsequent fall-out.

COP should not be flattered by their inroads into PNM and UNC territories. Regardless of how good or bad the PNM and UNC are they will always have their core voters.

Neither should COP depend on the “undecided” and non-voters who also have their core.

Don’t be fooled by the 50 per cent who are against the alliance of both. Most are PNM supporters who are afraid of it.

In either event, they will win more than they lose if they got together. Winston Dookeran should not be fooled by his increased popularity vis-à-vis Manning.

At present, the COP and UNC are suffering from displaced venom. They hate each other more than they hate the PNM, both suffering from inflated egos (the Anti-Christ in man).

A major imponderable not being considered by either Nacta or ANSA McAL is the element of synergy. That is, the UNC/COP combined aggregate will be greater than the sum of their separate votes. For eg, in Diego Martin Central, Nacta projects 11 polling stations for the UNC and 27 for the COP a total of 38. But both parties in alliance (now a different entity) could exceed the 45 of the PNM because of the synergy generated by the attractiveness of the alliance and the awakening of the undecideds and non-voters.

Basdeo Panday prefers UNC and COP divided to lose than for a Dookeran-led alliance of both to win because of his past NAR pique. If he simply decides to ride out in the setting sun and allow Dookeran to saddle the horse, problem solved—as it would have been in the beginning if Panday did not separate the posts of party leader and Leader of the Opposition.

Rodney Appleton


Stupidity confirmed?

Looking at the campaigns take shape for the general elections, one cannot help but wonder if the UNC has any intention at all of trying to unseat the PNM!

The UNC’s platforms are now specifically designed to attack the Congress of the People and it’s almost as UNC is protecting the PNM by refusing to really use its meetings to expose the corruption of the PNM.

Today, all we are hearing is the continued fighting in the UNC, compounded by the absence of a leader too frail to campaign against anyone.

It’s like the PNM and UNC were made for each other. Clearly, the strategic partnership born in last year’s budget between Patrick Manning and Kamla Persad-Bissessar was designed to become a tag team against the COP.

What we are seeing is the COP basing its chances at government on a campaign to expose the PNM and provide real solutions to issues affecting our country.

The UNC’s only campaign is to call for unity and then beat up on those they claim to want to unite with.

I would like to make a public call to the UNC—if you have nothing to say, please be quiet and let big people do their work. You are doing nothing but annoying people with your childishness and stupidity.

Go by the old saying—stay quiet and let people wonder if you’re stupid, don’t open your mouths and confirm it!

Sandy Solomon

via e-mail

Indian boys need voice

There are youngsters of Indian descent living on the East-West corridor who are suffering. Some experience mental torture at the hands of their parents.

Young men of African origin are a favourite topic of the social psychologists, worldwide. Many of these learned professionals embrace the making of easy money-producing books on the failure of the African male. But we will not go there today. Today, it is the young Trini Indian who is mentally stretched to the limit and beyond by over zealous parents. They too need someone to take note of their suffering.

Many Indian youth are tempted to go the route of suicide rather than incur the wrath or disappointment of so-called loving parents if they fail.

This high suicide rate among youngsters of Indian origin is also a worldwide phenomenon. These children are forced to straddle both worlds—ancient India and a western culture their parents sometimes forbid.

In Trinidad and Tobago, the ambitions of some parents are just as difficult for some children to fulfil and we have a few who fall by the wayside.

On both sides of the fence, caring too much is as bad or worse than not caring at all.

This is an election year. We do not need the goodly professor labelling the young people unnecessarily. He is also, unwittingly, promoting a negative picture of Afro-Trinidadian parenthood. That these parents are inept and uneducated and do not care about their children. One has to be careful not to create inferiorities in this multi-ethnic, multi religious country of ours.

Not everyone is fodder for Golden Grove, Professor, East-West corridor or not.

Lynette Joseph

via e-mail

Best wishes Ike Patterson

The positive influence of yoga practice is well documented in its transformation of troubled lives and it is good to know that the T&T Prisons Service has a programme through the Raj Yoga organisation that can support people who are inclined to it.

The story of Ike Patterson is inspiration for us all and a lesson that there are many paths to contentment that must be tapped into.

The Prisons Services must continue to develop the many avenues that transform lives so that all and sundry can find their way to inner peace while in their charge.

Here’s wishing Mr Patterson all the best with his studies at UWI and all his future endeavours and to the prisons services for facilitating the opportunities.

Gregory Sloane-Seale

via e-mail

New identity, courtesy Ministry

What is going on in this country? I applied for an electronic birth certificate and found that my middle name or other name if you will, is presented on the certificate as my surname or last name.

The online application form I downloaded from the Ministry of Legal Affairs had no insert point for an applicant’s surname or last name; which ever you want to call it. I suspected that something was foul about that.

This raises a legal question, am I still who I was prior to the name change blunder? The new birth certificate posted to me with my middle name as my surname officially gave me a new identity courtesy of the Ministry of Legal Affairs. Isn’t that ironic?

I implore the ministry to adjust its birth certificate form so applicants can insert their surnames and all other names for accurate processing.

B Joseph

via e-mail

Help me before good times end

This is an open letter to

the Prime Minister.

I am a secondary school teacher who has been waiting a number of years for my retroactive payment after I was promoted from a Teacher One to Teacher Two.

Mr Prime Minister could you hurry up and help me.

Bread is on the rise and I am now hearing of an increase in electricity, water and telephone rates.

I hear so much talk about this country’s wealth, but I can’t see it.

Even as a professional I am finding it difficult to live in Trinidad and Tobago.

I look at the islands and most families live as tourists in their own countries. Right in Barbados, middle class families take vacation trips to Europe each year and right here we have to save for years to purchase a ticket to London.

These islands depend on tourism to survive. We have oil and gas and yet San Fernando and Port-of-Spain are littered with vagrants.

It appears the Government is bent on ensuring that the poor people of the country continue to remain poor because it has failed to understand that the good times we are currently experiencing is purely temporary as they were in the 1970s.

Sam Lana

via e-mail

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