Sunday 28th September, 2008

 
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Devaluing the office of the PM

I read that the Honourable Prime Minister hinted in Parliament that “the Prime Minister proposes very shortly to travel to Spain and to travel to England where we will talk with Repsol, we will talk with British Gas and we will talk with BP. That's all I will say about that matter.”

This statement was made in the context of lower revenues being derived from LNG Trains I, II & III in comparison with those from Train IV.

The big energy producers have been posting quarterly profits quoted in billions of dollars and it is only right and fitting that the countries whose non-renewable resources are being exploited should be adequately, fairly and justly compensated for their wasting assets.

Presumably, there have been sensible provisions enshrined in the agreements between the Government and the gas companies relating to their review, rescission or termination.

What is surprising is that the Prime Minister will be going off to these countries in order to talk with these companies when there are so many pressing problems at home requiring his attention and management.

Isn't this further devaluing the Office of the Prime Minister, which not so long ago was seen as usurping the function of TTPost or DHL delivering airmail around the Caribbean?

Then there was the “tell them to leave me” display the other day when ministers have been known to be fired for less than that sort of thing.

The following elementary questions, among others, must arise:

Were these matters first discussed with the line ministers and their technocrats?

Were proper briefs prepared?

Would this announcement have come as a surprise to the companies named?

While it is appreciated that natural gas is the lifeblood of Trinidad and Tobago's economy one would assume that before any public announcement is made, the process and procedure to enter into negotiations with foreign companies would entail proper homework and preparations on the part of government, discussions between government officials and officials of the gas companies through their local offices in the first instance and written requests for meetings to review existing arrangements with venues alternating between local and foreign. Maybe all these are already in place, who knows.

Of course, any company officials visiting for the occasion would likely pay a courtesy call on the Prime Minister, and that is fine, but the Office of Prime Minister need not be devalued by the officeholder having to go to the head offices of these foreign companies to talk with their officials.

Rawlston G Gonourie

via e-mail


Car taxes to fund conferences

On what basis can PM Manning justify spending an astronomical $503 million (one per cent of the 2009 budget equivalent to the sum for the construction of the Tobago power plant) to host the Summits of the Americas and the Commonwealth if not to boost his already inflated ego?

What diplomatic goodwill and political and economic benefits will accrue to the pauperised people of Trinidad and Tobago from hosting these conferences when we are burdened with a poverty rate of 27 per cent? The poverty gap is widening.

On top of this sum PM Manning via Udecott has spent further billions to erect the Water Front Conference Centre and the Hyatt where the meetings will be held.

The escalating headline inflation rate of 12 per cent is already destroying the dwindling middle class that he has targeted for punitive tax measures.

It is clear the Manning administration has decided to lay down this red carpet diplomatic extravagance for visiting delegations to flaunt the oil and gas bonanza of T&T as well as to convey an illusion of wealth to the world.

He has increased the price on premium gasoline and increased motor vehicle tax totalling the half-billion that the middle class is being called upon to pay to fund this half-billion dollar diplomatic largesse.

T&T does not stand to gain technical assistance from the Commonwealth because of its high capita per capita. As for the headquarters of the FTAA, President Chavez already has performed the final rites with his ALBA alternative.

Like the proposed OECS political union demarche, PM Manning must show respect and tell us how T&T will gain from this $500m and rising foray into the unknown.

Stephen Kangal

Caroni


Are U-turns permissible?

I have noticed a print advertisement advising customers and suppliers of a change in a company location. The new location is El Socorro Extension Road #1, which is south of the Churchill Roosevelt Highway.

In the advertisement, the directional arrows on the map, indicate to drivers proceeding east along the CR Highway, in order to get to the new location, they need to make a U-turn at the CR Highway/El Socorro Road Extension #2 traffic lights, then proceed west along the CR Highway before turning south into Extension Road #1.

Encouraging U-turns on this busy section of the road will increase road carnage/rage and the traffic authorities should insist this advertisement be withdrawn/corrected.

MKP

Gulf View

 


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