Daly Bread: We chupidee, ent? The sterility of Budget statements and debates

The annual reading of the Budget is a ritual. It is real only in that it determines what will be the cost of living in the short and medium term.  This year it imposed additional taxes intended to replace evaporated energy sector revenue in order to prop up a lifestyle, frequently dissolute, which the country can no longer afford.

The rest of the Budget statement pretends to be a statement of Government policy but it is fluff and puff. This has been so for at least three decades.

Photo: Finance Minister Colm Imbert.
(Copyright i95.5FM)

It is just another thing we continue to do, even though it doesn’t really work. It doesn’t inspire anybody to consolidate, to diversify, to transform, or to follow whatever inspirational word is used in the title of the Budget statement.

During this annual ritual, fundamental questions are rarely asked. This week, therefore, I have a few questions by reference to things, which have recently appeared in the media and in other sources and which reflect what we are repeatedly doing wrong or condoning.

They are also reflective of the reality that Budget allocations alone can’t solve our problems. The quotes and questions cover typical headings, such as national security, education and the public sector.

“Relatives screamed as the body of Ria Indarsingh was removed from her home on Saturday night. Indarsingh, a 41 year-old mother of two, was beaten to death, police believe. It was the second killing in the family.”

Express, 1 October 2017.

Why was the first killing not solved? How did the person of interest disappear, Uncle Khalid-style? Why were no bourgeois voices raised and vigils held for Ria Indarsingh? Does murder only count when committed at the finer addresses or when the victims have high-grade occupations or good connections?

Photo: A murder scene.
(Copyright Udayavani)

“86 percent of perpetrators get away with murder. Deterrence is not working in TT. There is a lack of urgency on the part of law enforcement.”

Newsday, 25 September 2017, quoting criminologist Renee Cummings.

Is the only policy to induce urgency on the part of law enforcement a mammoth national security budget? Has any political party to date shown itself capable of putting forward a new management structure for the Police Service?

“Nonetheless we must never forget our core purpose—the education of our youth. University must encourage student activism, discourse on the issues of the day and freedom to develop their minds outside of the strict confines of their studies. In my humble opinion, social skills, empathy, social consciousness and a concern for equity are as equally important to success as is technical competence.”

Inaugural address of Robert Bermudez as Sixth Chancellor of the University of the West Indies on 16 September 2017.

Where is the proposal for the “transformation” of the certification mill? Are our rulers aware how many certified young persons find out that the certification is not a clear pathway to gainful employment? Are they aware of the lack of social skills?

Photo: Students at the graduation ceremony at UWI, St Augustine Campus.
(Copyright UWI)

“I am seeing a level of dysfunctionality in that previous Board.  I am seeing a level of dysfunctionality in the management. There is absolutely no discipline, no governance.  It’s a whole mish-mash of foolishness going on there.”

Guardian, 5 September 2017, quoting Minister Franklin Khan in the course of Joint Select Committee hearings into the procurement process of the Port Authority.

Do Minister Khan and other ministerial office-holders, past and present, from both major political parties not know that dysfunctionality in that part of the Public Sector is the norm, not the exception?

Which Government in living memory has tried to rein in the statutory authorities and State Enterprises?

Will our rulers finally confess to the true condition and use of statutory bodies and State Enterprises set out by my fellow commentator Winford James in the Express newspaper on 29 September 2017: “Every Government we have had, but especially the PNM and UNC/PP once, has so rigged the award of contracts that it is their financiers, their friends, and their families that get them.

“Every self-righteous one of them! They do so by rigging the composition of the Boards of State Enterprises, companies, and Statutory bodies. It has been happening with every change of Government.”

Photo: Minister of Works and Transport and PNM deputy leader Rohan Sinanan (right, foreground) and his family pose with Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley (far left).
(Copyright Trinidad Guardian )

I would add that a few worthwhile persons get lick up if they resist the rigging.  There is also the infamous fete tickets freeness.

In his letter of resignation as Chairman of the Board of TSTT, dated 19 September 2017, published in the Express, Emile Elias referred to the cancellation of “millions of dollars spent by the last Board on All-Inclusive Carnival luxury fetes for family and friends” and additional millions in “Carnival Sponsorship of certain private sector events.”

Budget debates are largely irrelevant. It is the drought of leadership at all levels and the bloodsucking of the status quo that has driven us into the ground. Are we expected to treat these debates and forums as credible?

We chupidee, ent?

More from Wired868
Daly Bread: Answers required for accountability in DPP imbroglio

Persons in public life frequently exercise power without accountability. As President Paula-Mae Weekes was recently demitting office, we were reminded Read more

Daly Bread: In the land of Jarndyce—the law is in danger of losing its teeth

I have a friend who I will call Jarndyce, to protect his identity and save him from victimization. His story Read more

Daly Bread: The unease of doing business in T&T—and the difficulty in “getting thru”

The inquiry “yuh get thru?” is commonplace. It means: did you succeed in completing the business or personal transaction you Read more

Daly Bread: Are we seeing a Carnival evolution, or a free-for-all?

The hyped-up Carnival 2023 has concluded, but the lack of changes in the traditional infrastructure and other provisions continue visibly Read more

Daly Bread: Ten thousand flowers bloom in panyards, but ole mas in Office of the AG

Trinidad and Tobago Television (TTT) has provided quality coverage of this season’s Panorama competitions, particularly through the engagement of knowledgeable Read more

Daly Bread: Steelpan still strong, but soca and mas fall short of “mother of all Carnivals” boast

The phrase “mother of all Carnivals” is overworked. Its use will eventually become as stale as “the greatest show on Read more

About Martin Daly

Martin Daly
Martin G Daly SC is a prominent attorney-at-law. He is a former Independent Senator and past president of the Law Association of Trinidad and Tobago. He is chairman of the Pat Bishop Foundation and a steelpan music enthusiast.

Check Also

Daly Bread: Answers required for accountability in DPP imbroglio

Persons in public life frequently exercise power without accountability. As President Paula-Mae Weekes was recently …


  1. Karen Bart-Alexander

    Clearly we are chupidee. We demonstrate it at every turn so our politicians are having a field day with us setting us against each other in support of one gang or the other.The people of Trinidad and Tobago must free ourselves from the dysfunctional politics and politicians. We desperately need TRANSFORMATIONAL LEADERS AND TRANSFORMATIONAL LEADERSHIP. Check out our Transformational Leadership page for information and discussion.

  2. Warning: Undefined variable $userid in /www/wired868_759/public/wp-content/plugins/user-photo/user-photo.php on line 114

    They feel we chupidee ent!! But they appear to forget that elections will soon be here and then pompous imbut, the let me down PM et al will feel the pain they’re currently inflicting on we the people. To quote one of them “you could run but you cyah hide”

  3. Mr Daly I want you to come out from the cloak of being a theorist, disguised as a “social conscience” and put up your hand to lead an Integrity Commission with renewed vigour and purpose. Until then hide and throw jabs…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.