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, a board member of The Little Carib Theatre and Folkhouse 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.