Home / View Point / Martin Daly / Million 5 on the Visa card; T&T dangerously misled by political financial forecasts

Million 5 on the Visa card; T&T dangerously misled by political financial forecasts

Yes, it was pleasing to see that on nomination day, on Monday August 17, candidates competing in various constituencies in a fortnight, in the September 7 General Election, shook hands, back-slapped and danced.

Photo: COP candidate and Arima MP Rodger Samuel (right) greets Toco/Manzanilla candidate Brent Sancho.
Photo: COP candidate and Arima MP Rodger Samuel (right) greets Toco/Manzanilla candidate Brent Sancho.

Let us not go overboard in believing that such harmony will be sustained if revenues available to Governments in the short to medium term fall below the fete and freeness facilitation level.

At the moment, the current Government is promising to continue unrestrained expenditure on social programmes for which dollars and cents accountability is weak and difficult to trace through the myriad agencies that spend the money.

Not surprisingly the Opposition can only hint at the need for financial responsibility because Trini lifestyle assumes that good times will always roll.

Lack of serious concern for the future is a normal feature of our general elections. However serious commentators on the economy have detailed the downturn in oil and gas revenues and the use of capital to sustain the good times. We have a Carnival costume economy, that is, spend plenty cash on declining material.

We might do well to remember that in 1986 the NAR, which won the election with a thumping majority of 33-3, had promised us repeatedly during the election campaign that “together we will roll back the recession”.  To the population’s surprise, rolling back the recession in fact meant salary cuts and COLA removal contemporaneously with the introduction of Value Added Tax.

Photo: Tribe revellers let loose on Carnival Monday in 2015.  (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Tribe revellers let loose on Carnival Monday in 2015.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

This medicine did not go down well.  If current economic commentators are accurate in their analyses and forecasts, some new strong medicine may be administered sooner than we think.

One must not also underestimate how much more high flying the mind-set of the population is in comparison to 1986/87.  Scotch whiskey has elevated from black to gold to blue, cars from Honda to Porsche and all-inclusives have multiplied and gone from $200 to $2000.

Coming down from that high will be a lot tougher than coming down from the pre-1986 high. Moreover the population that may suffer the hangover is larger and infinitely more aggressive with a well-entrenched sense of entitlement.

There is an additional feature of Trini life that was not present at all in the 1980’s from which any weaning process may be equally painful. I refer of course to online shopping. This is a problem as wide and as deep as the Amazon.

No one really knows how many young and not so young are maxing out their credit taking tablets, telling Victoria their secrets or making themselves DSW habit forming and otherwise shoe dazzling. For that Visa, you do not have to stand on the pavement in hot sun or in the rain.

Photo: Finance Minister Larry Howai. (Courtesy news.gov.tt)
Photo: Finance Minister Larry Howai.
(Courtesy news.gov.tt)

Despite these circumstances, management of the economy is not an issue on the election campaign platforms and, if mentioned, it is addressed only superficially and defensively so, while a chronic shortage of US dollars exists outside the credit card medium.

Last week, I borrowed the lyrics of Vybz as apt to describe the negative effect of the political campaigns. I look again to the world of rap for my headline to describe the corrosive effect of a lifestyle not supported by a legitimate or sustainable economy whether above ground or underground.

Just as the rapper from the rich gang puts “a million 5 on the Visa card,” our Governments put billion dollar deficits on the energy card. Unfortunately the wide circulation of all this credit is not always buying happiness and is certainly not buying peace of mind.

Murders may be statistically down somewhat, but rampant nevertheless and the society is no less brutal, than in the Manning PNM era. Arguably, particularly measured by family and domestic violence, the brutality has grown worse.

During our fifty plus years of Independence, our collective conscience is of a far lower degree of sensitivity than that prevailing four decades ago at the time of the conviction of Mano Benjamin, killer and torturer of two young girls, described by his trial judge “as a beast in human form.”

Photo: Dancers for Massy Trinidad All Stars perform to "Curry Tabanca" during the International Conference and Panorama at the Grand Stands, Queen's Park Savannah.  (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Dancers for Massy Trinidad All Stars perform to “Curry Tabanca” during the International Conference and Panorama at the Grand Stands, Queen’s Park Savannah.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

Anyone living in the real world will know that conditions for abuse of our women and children have become more favourable to the abusers. This is not surprising to me.

When I began my representations about the Akiel Chambers case I described our condition in March 2004 as “drowning in slackness” and complained about “the validation of the total slackness that is destroying this society”.

Now many more persons, including those who could not discern reality at that time and some who were snidely sceptical, are low on hope. Perhaps they will re-examine their previous indifference.

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.

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71 comments

  1. Ever had a dog that likes to suck egg. Try taking away that egg and see how angry that dog becomes . That’s what is happening right now and it will become worst . I feel for the people on minimum wage , my heart bleeds for them .

  2. This was one of my favorite Martin Daly pieces.

  3. “Not surprisingly the Opposition can only hint at the need for financial responsibility because Trini lifestyle assumes that good times will always roll.”
    That’s all!

  4. Gaiven Clairmont

    great article by Martin Daly and yes it will be a bitter pill for the population to swallow and also too neither party seems to want to acknowledge what will happen come 2016 with the way these energy prices are shaping up to be, smdh. Ah well we like the rum and roti politics so we’ll just have to wait and see what happens next year 🙁

  5. Ah man say ah box ah food by el pecos is more than a barrel of oil lol

  6. Getting a building that’s isn’t dilapidated

  7. Folks, Rowley has talked austerity on several platforms since LGE 2013. If I heard it then everyone must have. Expect belts to tighten.

  8. They need to solve the immigration issues or else it’ll be another shut down

  9. When the PNM comes into office people are gonna have to work for a living ……… and when I say “work” I don’t just mean show up.

    It’s time to end the handouts!

  10. Very good article . Thanks Mr Daly for trying to bring these trinis back to reality

  11. They r defin speaking the truth! Lots to come but we too ‘happy’ for our good. Sad!

  12. Well they’re speaking truth. Oil is 37 dollars a barrel. Soon that will be just below production costs. What then? This is why I admired ANR. He was honest about these types of situations.

  13. Well they’re speaking truth. Oil is 37 dollars a barrel. Soon that will be just below production costs. What then? This is why I admired ANR. He was honest about these types of situations.

  14. Thank you Mr Daly, well said and well received.

  15. Really was hoping that this would be more than just an opinion based article, hoping for some KPIs and analysis of data. However again we have some financial pundit stating the obvious in a poorly constructed article not utilizing any statistics or data. smh

  16. I suspect if the pnm comes into power there would be belt tightening measures. What about all the outstanding negotiations? How are the needs of the underemployed or temporary worker (cepep and urp, ojt and contract etc) to be adressed as they have to pay rent, cant qualify for mortgage etc. What about the scourge of homelessness in the capital city? How are we going to help these ppl? Are there any plans to foster closer relations with CARICOM by providing an inter-island ferry service? Why is my NIS going up all the time? What measures are going to be put in place to collect taxes from everyone who needs to pay-from doubles vendor to nutsman to advertising sales agents.

  17. Thanks so much Live Wire for reposting these pertinent editorials which I have been missing out on since the Express decided on its new and questionable price policies.

  18. I have been say this for a long time now, it seems that it’s all about the bling here.

  19. Indeed. There will be a time of reconning and if we Trinis don’t open our eyes we will be blinded by the tears that will fall.

  20. I have said it 100 times and I will continue to say it… This government and their friends and family is in ‘eat-ah-food’ mode but oil prices and other indicators are saying food done!

    I remember 1986-1991 very well including the coup. Some public servants weren’t even getting their monthly salary on a regular basis! And whilst nobody wants to hear about doom and gloom, I think we should remember that we tend to repeat ‘boom and buss’ cycles.

    I expect to hear how they intend to manage the public purse in the coming years.

    I expect to hear how they intend to reign in excessive spending and belt tightening but the problem is… Those things don’t say votes come election time! So I’m expecting to hear all those things after the election!

  21. Sometimes I just can’t with Verna nuh!!! ??

  22. He wins the award for the best dressed MP

  23. yeah… it’s hard to make those guys charged with managing the economy sexy (i will not name names, lol)

  24. Try sexier photos Carla! Just kidding. It is true. I do lots of stories that I know are important but know before it is published that it won’t get many hits.
    But we can never only give readers what they want. We have to give them what they need sometimes too.

  25. If I may be allowed a little rant here… i like seeing articles like these capture the attention on the population because when i was a business reporter it was a struggle to get economy stories higher than page ten (the business page) and if it beat the threshold, it would be the first to be sacrificed for a jucier bacchanal story, because that was what newspapers believe the population wants, bacchanal news. until it gets real tight, then economy news becomes cool. although judging from the majority of silly season headlines, it still isn’t cool yet.

  26. Martin Daly is so on trend though!

  27. I love both articles…… They are relevant and speak to the mind-set of a lot of Trinidadians. I agree with you Lasana remember when we had the fear world wide of a pandemic occurring and Trinidadians were up in arms about if Carnival should be postponed or not..

  28. Any Government that shuts down Carnival will face the “Mother of all Protests” I suppose… Once there is mas, Trinis happy to look on the brighter side.
    Sunity Maharaj had an excellent column about the value of manifestos and how they ought to be used. I think the both columns complement each other.

  29. Lasana Liburd I think the public is happy to keep its head in lala land and study what carnival band they playing with in Feb. China is in some problems (I am no economist so I defer to the experts) the stock markets around the world are in shock, billions of monies lost/some will be recovered as market evens out but nothing is being said about this here and how it will affect us. We want to hear who sleep with who or what and all the gossip that would be on the back pages of newspapers but that is platform fodder! I am almost 40 years old, technically I have another 25 years before i am “expected to retire” I want to know what the immediate future for trinidad looks like. If my gf comes to tell me that she is pregnant I need to start planning that just before I “retire” my child will be graduating and going to University what financial help could i offer then? will I be able to do that, live comfortably and if God forbid my “wife” or I get sick in old age that we can handle the costs? That is what I want to know!!

  30. Lasana Liburd brother, the image distracting people from reading the article lol haha.. good report

  31. Vernal I don’t know which of your statements to like and wish i could like them multiple times! I mean Trinidad is not the US etc but come on when a party that has the potential to form the next Government and the person being put up in my constituency is the Personal Assistant of the PM…I have a big problem with that. I hear what he has to say but all I can assume is that that statement has been prepared for him by the PM adviser… If he wins the seat all i can expect is that he will go sit in Parliament turn on the iPad they give them and be designing the PM wardroom or looking to go collect her laundry… He will have no meaningful contributions to make during a debate!

  32. Vishesh RamSingh – exactly the concerns you expressed yesterday

  33. TT politicians don’t ever want to bring sobering news to the population, or even worse, take serious action…

  34. Great. Let people go back to their senses and stop behaving like base animals on the streets.

  35. Martin is spot on in regards to the dangers we face. He did not mention our falling reserves which is another aspect of our predicament. You only look at the current insanity regarding the fall of share prices in China and the knock-on effect to see how perilous the times we live in are.

    And despite the circumstances, I had supposedly intelligent people telling me that plans for the Revenue Authority will deal with any revenue shortfall and that oil prices would soon go back up. Laughably, he pointed to the increased output in the market as part of the argument. It would be funny if it wasn’t so tragic.

    All these plans to cut taxes and improve services and nothing about how to survive in a US $40 a barrel oil market and a global slowdown induced by China. What people fail to realise is that the global economy and financial system is a confidence game and right now, confidence is low.

  36. But hear eh, at least we listened to what the man said.
    I think others write him off because deep down inside ……… look, leh mih hush eh!

  37. Nicole either custom made of he took the children’s T shirts!

  38. “Process”?
    Pick-ah-pan is not a process dear heart!

  39. I not a fan of T-shirts period!
    Don’t wear them..lol

  40. but Mel Lissa…dat look custom made!!!

  41. Don’t forget the ‘election of candidates process Vernal..if one existed

  42. Mel Lissa yuh not a fan of smedium T-shirts?

  43. That interview was enough to derail his entire campaign ……. and that is only if it wasn’t already derailed by the corrupt party he’s representing!

  44. I may throw in that the UNC needs to order a bigger size jussey for him doe

  45. My only comment about him is thank God I don’t have to consider voting for him..
    regardless of which sex he chooses to like and/or dislike

  46. Is not all yuh I talking bout ladies.
    Every pot-hong know he pot yuh know?

  47. Oh yes Nicole..we did hear what he had to say.

  48. The proverbial “we” Trin No Pepper Bagonian, the proverbial “we”.

  49. Vernal Damion Cadogan..you obviously didn’t hear handbag man umbrella interview…hahahahahahahahahaaaaaaaa.

  50. Lol. Vernal has a point though…

  51. Really Vernal it’s not cool to paint everyone with the same brush because we allow other people their opinions… even when they’re wrong ones… 🙂

  52. Trini No Pepper ..agree 100%

  53. I have a Plan
    That’s what we want to hear..ask Tanty

  54. All yuh making joke right?
    Right flicking here in Wired 868 people have rejected a newly named candidate because dey find he look like he like man ……… dey doh know, dey just find he look so.

    Dey eh even hear wey d man hah tuh say and big man Lasana Liburd want tuh know what Trinidadians want to hear on ah political platform.

    Dem eh want tuh hear one ass, it could be ah fashion show fuh all dem care!

  55. At this point, I should think, anything other than “my name is KPB or JW (or I belong to COP) and I want your vote”…but maybe that’s just me Lasana… what else can the strategy be at this late stage…? Dr. Rowley’s interview was good enough for me…I don’t know which of the other 16 party leaders (I heard on the radio there are 17 contesting, obvi not in all constituencies) have done any public interviews like that one or I would try to listen to them. Other than that, I would think people would want answers to their questions on the manifestos presented. #SorryNotSorry but I am not listening to KPB, she had 5 years to talk to me…her time is done….and JW cannot get a vote from me when the US looking to throw him in jail…nowhere else in the world, would be he considered a viable candidate, yet he leads a party that has supporters…that, is scary, very scary…C.O.P. have not proven to be anything but weak-willed and unprincipled…they too have had their chance….why on earth would they think they deserve another one?

  56. Lasana Liburd on a political platform most Trinis want tuh hear anything but the truth!

  57. What do Trinis want to hear on a political platform exactly? I would love responses to that one as well.

  58. I am waiting patiently to see the consequence of all the wastage and selfishness.