Thursday 9th October, 2008

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NFM, pass on lower Food prices to consumers

When the price of grains and other commodities were soaring as the charts went parabolic, NFM jacked up prices of flour and other food items. Consumers would have been spared the full effect of these record high prices if NFM had hedged using futures and options contracts traded in the Commodities Exchange. But that’s water under the bridge. Let’s move on to the current commodity price environment.

During the past few weeks commodity prices have declined sharply. December wheat contract has dropped like a rock, from over $1,150 to $600; December corn contract has fallen from $780 to $424; January 2009 soybeans has declined from $1,650 to $1,000; and December rough rice has come down by approximately 20 per cent, not as as steep as the other grains but nevertheless still a substantial and welcome drop.

NFM should now pass these price declines on to the long-suffering consumers. Why is it consumers pay higher prices when raw materials are increasing but do not benefit from lower prices?

Not only should NFM reduce prices but it should now ensure that the consumer would continue to benefit from these lower prices by purchasing futures contracts in wheat, soybean, corn, rice, and other commodities.

When commodity prices increase in the months ahead we would expect NFM to tell us that it will maintain food prices at lower levels because it bought wheat, soybeans, corn and other grain contracts at the low prices in October.

It is possible that grains and other commodities will make new lows in the weeks ahead. But NFM and other companies cannot depend on picking the highs and lows in the markets. They should buy when the markets are much lower and falling, and sell when the markets are much higher and rising. As the old trading adage goes: buy low and sell high, or buy lower and sell higher.

If NFM does not have the necessary expertise to design and implement proper hedges, it should employ the services of experienced and knowledgeable traders at the commodity merchants and brokerage houses.

We can’t depend only on NFM to ensure the consumer enjoys lower prices. In the aftermath of these massive price declines, governmental agencies responsible for food prices and consumer affairs must monitor food prices, and act forcefully when necessary so that citizens are not bled dry by those who seek to fatten their pockets by maintaining the existing high prices.

Deosaran Bisnath

President, Gopio T&T

Let’s follow new US mental health law

An interesting development took place in the US recently that has gone largely unnoticed locally. The Con-gress passed a bill that enforces parity for mental health issues. Simply put, legislation now forces equal insurance coverage for mental health and physical health issues.

Locally, people requiring treatment for issues such as depression, autism, schizophrenia, eating disorders and alcohol and drug abuse have little choice but to pay professionals for these services, or to jostle for the limited psychiatric treatment offered at regional health centres.

The one exception may be those employed people fortunate enough to work for an employer that provides an effective employee assistance programme.

For most people, unfortunately, access to mental health services can be costly, and thus outside their reach.

Many people in the US can now access the services of psychologists, counsellors, and psychiatrists and claim refunds for monies spent through their health insurance.

What a wonderful day it would be in T&T if similar laws were passed to allow mothers to get help for their “problem” children, married couples in crisis to save their marriages, depressed people to regain the strength and confidence to live and thrive, and angry young men to learn how to control their tempers.

I can only hope that this “good news” from up North can trickle down to us here quickly in the land of steelband, calypso, and limbo (chutney?). It is time now for the politicians, insurance companies, and other affected parties to take note of this significant milestone and ensure that our citizens can benefit from the services of our local mental health practitioners as our neighbours in the US now can.

Daryl C Joseph


Mothers, be angry with criminals, not the police

My hearts goes out to the mothers of sons shot by the police.

Some of these sons may not be criminals, but when they are in the company of criminals they put themselves in danger.

Mothers should teach their sons to treat criminals like they would treat deadly diseases because that is what they are. Mothers should teach their sons to keep away from criminals as they would keep away from deadly diseases.

Instead, some mothers prefer to teach their children to dislike “anything in a uniform,” as reportedly stated by a mother who lost her son this week.

Mothers must be angry with the criminals who got their sons killed, not the police.

JFA Jules



Why PTSC still on Robinson Circular?

PTSC has access to a spanking new off-road covered passenger hub near the Arima Municipal Stadium. So why on earth does it clog Robinson Circular every day with buses?

It was only last year that the Arima traffic management team implemented new traffic measures to increase traffic flow, so PTSC’s occupation of Robinson Circular as a pick-up and drop-off point is illogical. Surely PTSC can station its buses off-road.

As regards PTSC’s passengers, why does PTSC force them to stand in blazing sun and pouring rain to get on its buses in Arima? Surely PTSC can do better. Or can it?

B Joseph

Via e-mail

Well, Praise De Baleezay

Yuh feeling good

’Bout life in Trinbago


Well, praise de baleezay!

Yuh have water

In de pipe in yuh house


Well, praise de baleezay!

Yuh doh know

Nobody who get murdered


Well, praise de baleezay!

Yuh could drive in 25 minutes

From Arima to PoS


Well, praise de baleezay!

Yuh could spen’ $200 a week

And feed yuh family


Well, praise de baleezay!

Yuh get a good wuk

After passing yuh Cape


Well, praise de baleezay!

Yuh could get answers

From yuh Prime Minister


Well, praise de baleezay!

Yuh doh have to depen’

On barrel from abroad


Well, praise de baleezay!

Yuh happy ‘bout

De direction T&T going


Well, praise de baleezay!

Yuh answers to

All dem questions is no


Well, praise de baleezay!

Richard Wm Thomas

Five Rivers, Arouca

Hiawatha an insult to First Peoples

I attended the opening of the Lydian Singers’ Hiawatha with excitement and anticipation as a lover of T&T culture, a lover of classical music, a descendant of Iere’s First Peoples, the Caribs, and an overall patron of the arts.

And I was appalled.

Branded as a “tribute” to our Carib nation, I was stunned by dance, drama and music which never conjured any kind of Amerindian dignity or authenticity. Instead, it made a mockery of Amerindian cultures the world over.

It also dishonoured the work’s author and composer. Hiawatha is an oratorio, not an opera, and I am not sure how or why it is being promoted and programmed as part of the Lydian Singers “operatic tradition,” nor cut and pasted together as it was.

It is a responsibility of any well-known group and individual in this country to do right by the public, and if they claim to be educating, to do so responsibly.

Hiawatha, however, was a slap-dash “operatic” production and piece of propaganda which made claims of representation, education and tribute that are an insult to my First Peoples and the public at large.

J Lara

Santa Cruz

It’s simply about making money

“How we disable ourselves by giving some humans more rights than others” (Attillah Springer, Guardian, October 4) is a great summation about the intellectual and social capacity of Trinidadians to effect the right kind of change.

On a small island in which fragile eco-systems, carrying capacity and environmentally esthetic building codes are non-issues for ignorant Trinidadians, decimating valuable mangrove swamps in exchange for tasteless ill-conceived retail outlets is no big deal.

The population did not care enough to support the encampment on the foreshore of two or three iconoclastic individuals who protested.

However, to those business interests who responded to Springer’s article on MovieTowne, take note that building a business to grow jobs and the economy is not the same thing as using people to generate wealth for yourself and a select few.

Please, please, do not talk in such lofty hypocritical terms about job generation and socially conscious activity. If you are honest business people you will agree that if you could you would use robots if it will increase your business profits. As it stands, at this time you must use labour to get rich, and exercise corporate social responsibility to get even richer.  

You forfeited the golden opportunity to take a corporate socially responsible leadership role to the highest level where it mattered most, by purchasing the swamp land and putting it in trust for future generations, and finding somewhere else to build your MovieTowne.

In the absence of playing your part in the cultural reengineering of our society, self-interest and monetary gain place your idea of corporate social responsibility firmly in the corporate greed picture.  

Unfortunately, for those employees who work hard in non-enterprising firms, growing rich is not as easy as making and retailing cups of coffee for $20 or waiting for droves of humanity to come pouring in to view the latest foreign blockbuster film so that they could go buy their clothes and jewels, make reference to, dress, talk and behave just like the foreign movie stars.

It is to Springer’s credit that no one else expressed an obvious disconnection between the goals of the elaborate just-concluded Caribbean film festival and the history and character of MovieTowne, where it was held.  

Kathleen Pinder


Please repair Waterloo Road

Isn’t it ironic that our country boasts the Pitch Lake yet some of our roads are in the worst condition possible?

A typical example is Waterloo Road, Carapichaima. Recent works by various utility companies have made the road that extends from St Mary’s junction to Waterloo High School nothing less than a hazard.

There are horribly deep potholes that have caused one too many accidents by motorists attempting to dodge the somewhat “bottomless pits.” Not to mention the damage to cars from driving on the road.

I appeal to the authorities to please act quickly to repair Waterloo Road, and by this I don’t mean to fill the potholes with gravel. This just creates a greater hazard for pedestrians.

Any attempts to repair the Waterloo Road with be greatly appreciated.

Melissa Abdool

Via e-mail

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