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STREET VIBE: That’s insulting! Condescending politicians are T&T’s biggest freeloaders

“It is sad and indeed ironic that those who have been accusing taxpayers of living off the fat of the land, are the biggest parasites of the offices which they occupy; doing all this while paying no taxes.”

The following Letter to the Editor on Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley’s criticism of the public for its reliance on the government was submitted by Rudy Chato Paul, Sr:

Photo: Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley. (Courtesy Caribbean News Service)
Photo: Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley.
(Courtesy Caribbean News Service)

So there I was, entertaining myself on Facebook—the only entertainment I can currently afford—‘mining’ people’s business, when up jumped the now infamous 22 second video of Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley.

There he was, ranting like David Rudder’s “mad man”, boldly condemning citizens of this land for relying too much on government for having to build the nation’s roadways, health centres, schools “and every this and every that.”

By now, most would have seen the video and as such there is no need to quote him.  I replayed the 22 second clip several times, just to be sure of what I was hearing and make sure I understood what he was saying.

I knew when it became the talking point someone strategically placed would be required to put positive a spin on it. And I was correct—again.

Apparently the PM is of the view that successive governments, for at least the last two generations, have been doing the people of this land a great disservice by providing roads, schools and health centres along with “every this and every that.”  The various regimes have been busily moulding and shaping our entitlement mentality to which we have become so used that we now need to be “weaned off.”

Unfortunately, the goodly Doctor said nothing of the career political parasites who became fabulously wealthy simply by occupying the corridors of power—some for more than an entire generation—while their respective constituencies have been, and continue to be, systematically and intentionally neglected.

Photo: Time to roll up your sleeves!
Photo: Time to roll up your sleeves!

The PM’s logic explains the derelict condition of the roads in constituencies defined as ‘safe seats’ held by both of the major parties. Put another way, one may recall Peter Taylor, not so long ago, also accusing citizens of “living off the fat of the land.”

It is sad and indeed ironic that those who have been accusing taxpayers of living off the fat of the land, are the biggest parasites of the offices which they occupy; doing all this while enjoying exclusive tax breaks.

This means that the PM, who has been a Member of Parliament (MP) since 1991, who was also appointed as a Senator in 1987, has enjoyed certain benefits not shared with the ordinary taxman for the past 29 years. And he is not the only one.

Coincidentally, the current Minister of Finance (MoF) has also been an MP since 1991. Sadly, his portfolio has not the slightest relationship to anything resembling finance. And, like the others who occupy the corridors of power, he has been one of the biggest beneficiaries, since it is evident to all that he cannot survive in any other world—as was evident in his construction of stadium which subsequently collapsed.

For the people who came begging for our support just over a year ago, to speak to us as though we are all lazy and illiterate, accusing all of us of being dependent on the government is highly offensive.

Photo: Time to tighten those belts.
Photo: Time to tighten those belts.

In fact, the majority of this nation are hardworking people, making sacrifices, having been asked earlier to ‘eat cassava,’ while others sip on “Presidential Wine” and a political leader flies like a mosquito, from one nation to another, with nothing to show for his travels aside from accumulating frequent flyer mileage.

That the genius MoF saw it fit to raise diesel fuel three times in the last year, while fuel prices around the world have been falling, is a true reflection of his understanding of economics.

No one is denying that oil prices are down. But this insistance on financing mega projects through taxation on the middle class has managed to reduce them to the status of ‘the working poor.’

The science of reducing VAT to 12.5 % while adding it to most food items is another of the MoF’s genius ideas.

It is abundantly clear that the people who occupy the corridors of power are out of touch with the people whom they begged for support recently. Until the PM and those with whom he surrounds himself with understand the functions of government, reckless statements like the last one will continue.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley. (Copyright Andrea De Silva)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley.
(Copyright Andrea De Silva)

Let’s hope there’s a sequel to his book, which reads: “From Mason Hall to White Hall, and Back.”


Editor’s Note: MPs do pay taxes on their salaries. That error in the initial post was corrected.

About Rudy Chato Paul Sr

Rudy Chato Paul, Sr, is passionate about gardening, music and writing and boasts post-graduate certification in Anthropology, Criminology and Sociology. He also studied Theology, which is why he is actively seeking to make Trinidad a better place rather than waiting for divine intervention. 

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  1. PNM would not solve the nation’s economic woes, “They believe in the doctrine that it is the business of the PNM Government to help enrich people and let those few rich people throw a few bones to the poor…..

  2. rowley you not in your home take your time we put you there what goes around comes around

  3. It’s sad that no one is talking about the School Improvement Project to which this soundbite was taken. I hope this project that brings together all 25 schools in Laventille bears great fruit for the community as a whole!

  4. I don’t see how this disproves his pt. EVERYBODY in Trinidad lives off and depends on the government. Politicos business ppl and the ordinary man. That’s the problem; it’s systematic and widespread like corruption. And saying what about dem solves nothing

  5. Nothing he says surprises me anymore. He disappointed me awhile back, and is maintaining that disappointment. He just good at talking without thinking. And every time I see ‘MoF’, I have to remind myself that it means Minister of Finance, because it looks like another phrase.

  6. it would be interesting to hear the excerpt published within the context of the entire speech.

  7. Amen. Don’t get tied up with the party politics, all of them is the same damn thing. At the end of the day is we who have to struggle to survive when the week, month or fortnight come. A big shout out to the single parents particularly & low income families because the Lord alone knows the maths you have to work to make that income stretch

  8. I am wondering if anyone listened to the whole speech?

  9. Why is it that we as Trinidadians continue to flaunt our lack of common sense so proudly? While I am no fan of the PM, when I heard the 22 sec clip, the first thing I did was to look for the entire speech. It was clear that he was targeting the business community, who responded to the budget in a negative way. He basically lashed out at those people who invest very little into the society and pay little to no tax. And we all know that. The rest of us who work for companies are taxes up front. We dont ger to chose to pay our taxes. Its paid for us, our of our salaries, in full. Doctors (with private practice), store owners, lawyers, teachers who give private lessons. None of these pay their full quota of taxes, as a group. Until these people start contributing the full share, they dont deserve to benefit from all the things taxes are supposed to provide, like roads, hospitals, etc.

  10. I think the aversion to his style was a convenient excuse for Manning and then for the Partnership. I personally like the fact that he will buff people for shoddy work. His interview with Hema Ramkissoon was fantastic. She asked lazy stupid questions and he called her on it. If people think that’s too harsh then hard luck for them. Do better. I want him to do better as well. But this is nonsense.

    • You’re talking about a prime minister who references his wife’s panties in a media interview. Maybe. Just maybe. Manning had a point.
      I won’t say he is an irredeemable person. But he lacks class.
      Just imagine that this is hud public face. What does that say?

    • Ok. I’m not familiar with this “reference to his wife’s panties”. And I’m not really interested in a prime minister lacking “class” I suppose. It’s a feeble argument when we are trying to deal with substantive issues like fiscal and social policy as this speech did. I have no patience for people hitting Kamla for her supposed drinking either. It’s a cosmetic argument by people who are too lazy to make a substantive one.

    • I don’t think I’ll ever understand people’s obsession with paper bag and their absolute obsession to ignore contents nah. Ever.

    • I understand it. I just don’t think it’s worthy of serious consideration.

    • And that’s your opinion Dan. And I don’t share it. Conduct while on the job matters to me, especially when it speaks to how I am viewed as a customer/tax payer.
      I hope your openness is across the board and not just confined to people with big titles.
      When a company shows me that I really couldn’t care less whether I have your business or not, I adjust accordingly.

    • My openness is restricted to those for whom it is not an important part of their duties. Other than that, I couldn’t care less.

    • It is not an important of the Prime Minister’s duties to conduct himself in a particular manner? I hope I never hear you poking fun at Donald Trump when he “keeps it real” then.

    • “Keeping it real” is different from denigrating sections of the population. This really is not the same thing. I think this is more akin to Lyndon Johnson conducting interviews while seated on the toilet. Annoying to be sure but not substantive or relevant.

    • But Dan, you don’t think talking about freeness and referring to education, health, and transportation facilities speaks to a government’s fiscal and social policy?
      I am all for responsible management of resources and not plunging the country into debt.
      But those services and amenities that he referenced are things I think the government should provide and provide well. When it fails to, it’s the lowest income earners who are hit the hardest.
      Additionally, to enunciate that position so brashly I think speaks to a worrying disdain for those who will be most severely affected.

    • I think HE spoke to the fiscal and social policy. I think the criticism of him is a cosmetic one.
      Also, we complain that he is not showing leadership or communication concerning the state of the economy and then when he says it forcefully we complain about his tone? Nah man. That is just pettiness. He is telling us things we don’t want to hear and so we find some reason to fault it.

    • Dan, be happy for your lot in life. But you shouldn’t speak to people about pettiness and make light of the challenges they have to endure in their neck of the words because you don’t understand it or care to.
      If you choose to do so regardless, that’s one thing. For a prime minister to also have that attitude is another matter entirely.
      I pay taxes yet I avoid the public sector whenever possible because I want to avoid the hassle and save my family from that. Not because I have money to burn.
      So it matters to me when a public servant shows me the finger and says I should hush and be happy for what I can get.
      But that’s me. And maybe that’s not you.

    • What I don’t understand is how the tone of the prime minister’s speech creates a challenge.

      Frankly, I’m not even sure I understand exactly what is wrong with his tone. Did he use obscenity? Did he call taxpayers freeloaders? The man outlined a CATASTROPHIC decline of 43% in government revenues and then said that the services provided by the government will have to be curtailed, including services that people expect. Where did he say that people weren’t entitled to expect it? He said that we have come to expect it over the past 2 generations but it is no longer feasible. Terrible news but we are quibbling about the tone.

      But say, for argument’s sake the tone was out of order. How does this create a challenge for you?

    • Dan, his understanding of the role of the government and what he sees as the deliverables of the government constitutes a challenge for me and others. And, worse, it is obviously part of a trend.
      The entire video is there. I’m guessing you listened. If you didn’t hear it then perhaps it was simply non-applicable to you.
      But remember there are many different realities in Trinidad and Tobago.

    • What, specifically, is this erroneous or misguided understanding of the role of government and its deliverables? He has constantly said that the government cannot pay for these things and if it were to borrow to cover the expenditure it would be doubtful that the government could pay it back. At no point did he disavow these services. He said that the population could not expect the same level. I listened to the whole speech before I listened to the clip. I was very surprised to hear that people took offense to the speech and that’s when I listened to the clip.

      The reason this is “obviously part of a trend” is because our exports are collapsing and have been since 2013. That’s the simple, brutal, inescapable truth. We can’t sustain massive deficits to maintain the level of service that people expect. It’s that simple. And the government would be grossly irresponsible if they didn’t make that absolutely clear to the population.

    • Dan, the massive debt the country is in has nothing to do with the government delivering roads on health centres. Or is that what you believe?
      There were some sensible things said in the overall speech, And then he sabotaged himself by referring to the “gimme gimme” mentality in the same sentence as he told people not to expect essential services.
      The “lazy press” didn’t do anything to Rowley. He did that to himself.
      But let’s agree to disagree. For me, anyone who mentions the country’s precarious financial situation while in the same breath chastising the public for wanting health centres and roads–as though the two things were somehow related–is being…
      Well, I think I’ve already made that clear.

    • How do you pay for these things? Not with money? Doesn’t that money have to come from somewhere?

      I’ll have to listen to the speech again. Or better yet read a transcript. I really don’t know where this “chastisement” came in. I think that’s just a reaction to people hearing bad news.

    • I think the revenue collection and cost cutting strategies are disastrous for lower income earners.
      Raising/adding taxes while talking about cutting costs on what should be considered rightful services/programs I think is offensive.
      I appreciate the 30% tax on millionaires but I think ppl making less than that can be taxed at a different rate from the majority of the population.
      There is a big difference between what you can do with 80k/year and 800k/year. And a big difference what the cessation of social programs/services on those two different incomes will have.

    • If you don’t know how we got into the debt, Dan, then we are doomed to repeat it. Chabeth, I’d love to hear how successful that millionaire tax is. But we won’t. We haven’t a word a peep from those millionaires and we won’t.
      Same millionaires who are getting State lands and more for a song.

    • I know very well how we got into the debt. There have been warnings about it since 2005 when energy exports reached 90% of exports. What does that have to do with the fact that we need to pay it or cut spending? This is simple accounting. You can’t spend money you don’t have. And you can either mortgage your future by borrowing to keep services (essential or non-essential) at certain levels, or you can cut the services.

    • Dan Ethan Martineau my brother. You were EXCELLENT in EVERYONE of your responses. The problem with some people in this country is that whenever this man speaks, people HEAR but don’t LISTEN.They hearing “tones”, but not the words. There was absolutely nothing wrong with the tone. And getting the opportunity to listening to the entire video just put rest to all the nonsense. The “tone” of that part of the speech was not higher, louder, stiff or aggressive than the tones leading up to it and beyond it. People heard a clip and went overboard with the comments (not surprised). It’s no different from the preview or “in-show” of a movie where they highlight the most exciting parts to gain your interest and when you go to the cinema with much excitement and anticipation, you leave the cinema with great disappointment, because the movie was boring as hell. Well it’s the same with this clip and what it was set out to do.

    • And the thing about Keith Rowley, is that he’s probably the most GENUINE politician we ever had or have in this country. What you see is what you get. But people want to see him in THEIR own image. No one can change the man. The way he speaks has ALWAYS been the way he speaks and it has probably worked for him. Because he wasn’t supposed to be PM because of his “personality” and he “aggressive”, “arrogant” and all other forms of descriptions that were supposed to work against him, according to Kamla, Moonilal and all who hate him.
      Who build the denominational schools and pay their teachers? Not the government? The Catholic and Hindu religions are full of millionaires in their congregation, but they don’t build deh own schools. So who was he speaking to when he said that? The people of Laventille? NOBODY is prepared to admit that we have this gimme gimme and dependency syndrome in this country and showed their agreement with him, but if allowed to get out of hand will only make things worst in this lagging economy. We saw how bad and excessive that syndrome was in the last 5 yrs and if it was started by the PNM, then who else better than a PNM Prime Minister is to say ENOUGH IS ENOUGH?

  11. Remember, “ALL politicians are liars and thieves!”

  12. The entire video is published in the story and on this thread Dan. And I didn’t accuse of being PNM. I just said where a particular line of thought leads.
    Nobody wants to believe that “maybe it is me”. But this aversion to the PM’s style of delivery and his thinking did not start with that clip. And it won’t end there.
    Is that always everyone else’s fault? The whole video interview is present here though.

  13. Well.said you are more that Correct I’m lost for words Rowley is the worst Storm to Destroy Trinidad .country is in crisis God please We are pleading Help.This Nation.from The PNM Wreckage .Trinidad is sinking Under the Rowley PNM its a disaster that happen .Its getting worst each day.

    • With all due respect, party politics across the board is the worst “storm” to destroy our country.
      When maggots feed off of carrion do you blame the maggots or the system that provides the carrion?

  14. For all those who are die hard … And friends of the plant. You vote for that.

  15. Actually I have been characterized as a PNM partisan before. Of course that completely ignores my work with the COP which was public record. Or how vociferous I was in criticizing Manning’s governments.

  16. I don’t think I’ve ever been accused of being a PNM partisan. Notwithstanding your implication, I don’t think there is anything wrong in what he ACTUALLY said. I don’t think it was characterized honestly or diligently. I think that using a mischaracterized 25 second clip to cause controversy in a comprehensive 25 minute speech is not “holding the government accountable”. It is lazy and irresponsible journalism which disgraces the media.

  17. There is always a temptation to think: “I am great.. My party is great… If people are thinking negative things about me or my party, then it must be because someone is feeding them false ideas…”
    I can tell you where that thinking will end Dan. There is a certain amount of arrogance there.
    It is the Opposition’s fault. Or it is the media’s fault. Or the journalist’s fault. Or the uneducated people’s fault. Or the greedy people’s fault…
    If Rowley’s people keep feeding that to him, they will do him a disservice.

    • Well, he won’t be the first PM to fall prey to ignoring the voice of the people-hehe we reach! Many politicians fail to realise their own supporters cannot win an election-it takes winning over fence sitters and opposition supporters. And to do that, educate and inform the public of the government’s policies and plans. There are consultations and committees all over but it seems even moreso the voices of the ppl are being ignored. A dangerous trend to democracy is when ppl’s voices are being shushed and legitimate concerns glossed over. And while we can sit by and criticise the media and journalists, they still provide a valuable service. How well they do it is another story. Maybe MATT can clarify how if you read three different newspapers, you end up with three different sets of facts and stories.

  18. It is time we vaccinate this nation from the deadly PNMitis disease which causes people to talk rubbish and do thiefing.

  19. Why is the port, Caribbean airlines, wasa, ttec, C TV, Vemcott , PTSC and so many other companies running at a loss for the past 50 years? Why is this so

  20. Who created cepep and urp and all the other gimme gimme make work schemes?

  21. Time to stop bumping our gums and do something positive!
    Demonstrations turn into street parties with a riddum section. And achieves nothing.
    Stop sending taxes and spending money that enriches these b******s!
    Money is the only thing these leeches respect.

  22. There were other, more relevant parts of the speech which addressed budget criticism. I think it is simple journalistic laziness and the desire to stir up controversy and get attention.

    • If only journalists did their job, we would realise how lucky we are to have the PNM. :-/

    • If journalists did their job they would find legitimate critiques of the government rather than manufacturing them out of some twisted words cribbed from a speech.

    • If only public figures did not also give them so much fodder to circulate. Btw, in the age of social media and ‘armchair journalists’ lol anyone could have taped the speech and edited it conveniently. Keep in mind, if news were printed for information purposes, most newspapers would not sell-we the public lap up scandalous headlines and stories.

    • The only way to not give fodder is not to say anything. Honestly any politician worth his salt would not pay attention to this controversy. I honestly just wish the media would stop this nonsense and actually find some real things to hold the government accountable for. It’s not like they don’t have material. We’re a country in a recession in the most crime ridden region of the world for gods sake! They have to make up things to make the government look bad? Really?

    • That I cannot dispute. Our crime rate is frightening. Murders are more gruesome. Too many missing people. No follow up on stories. If journalists too tired to follow up a story, what do we say about our poor forensic staff eith so many murders to follow up on, or our already overburdened police service? What does the MoNS do with its allocation besides recurrent expenditure?

  23. Rowley accusing Trinidad & Tobago taxpayers of be freeloaders but for a man who thinks he knows best he should know that he is the biggest freeloader as a politician he and his party and pass parties we are here today because of there greed now didn’t he and the partnership party agreed on one thing that benefited them both a rise in them pay-page they came together for that one common gold and didn’t Rowley ride the email-gate story to power what’s up now?

  24. Maybe it was that. Or maybe it was seen as the most relevant clip in light of the very recent budget presentation. And it was an early response from the PM to critics of the budget.

  25. Or they will pick the clip which is easiest to take out of context and rabble rouse.

  26. I didn’t see the news clip but a news story is maximum 2-3 minutes. If a speech is over 20 minutes long, everything cannot make it into the news story and the reporter will pick the part that he/she thinks is most relevant and affects the greatest number of people.
    I think the clip in question highlights the marked difference in comportment between when the PM is giving advice and when he is being given advice.
    Some ppl will not have a problem with someone displaying aggression in response to negative feedback. Others will.

  27. Saying it also in one of their quote unquote safe seats.


  29. Well said Renato!! All them politicians have their own businesses too and still scraping every cent from we ratepayers to do what?!! Nothing!! Like them want ah repeat of 1990!!

  30. Excuse me, you idiot! You are paid by us, the taxpaying citizens of Trinidad And Tobago, to run the affairs of OUR country. It’s a job. You are paid to do this. Yet for 52 years each and every one of you have robbed us blind and fattened YOUR pockets. What have we gotten? Rising crime, no health care, corruption in every level of Government…and the list goes on. Get off your FUCKING ARSE and get to WORK!!

  31. There are many of us who have worked hard for our income and have never benefited from handouts. We pay personal income tax, corporation tax, road tax, VAT, customs duties, license fees and other state charges. So I am not sure why we need to be admonished because T&T is now seeing hard times. Let’s also remember that politicians are the ones who created and fed this dependency syndrome for their own gain.
    As I said elsewhere, this is not the way to rally citizens behind a movement to bring about change in T&T. Anyone assuming the top post, be it PM, CEO, General Manager, HR Manager, can buff and blame. But we expect more of persons in these positions – vision, strategy, imagination, inspiration and leadership. Let’s not set our expectations low because of how we feel about a particular party. We must hold them all to the same standards.
    Schools, health centers and roads were poor examples to illustrate T&T’s dependency syndrome…so, of course, people would have been annoyed by his words.

  32. This is a typical example of a media organization editing for effect by showing a clip out of proper context. A 30 second passage at minute 15 of a 25 minute speech and people are going crazy over foolishness.

    Furthermore, what he said was not out of place either within or out of the speech. We ARE facing a budget constraint and people need to recognize that. Instead they focus on some imaginary slight like children.

  33. Things that Rowley have said or referenced while speaking to the media/public:
    “Vomit comet”, “savages”, “Sharon’s panties”, “finger in bottom”…
    Is it time to accept that maybe the Prime Minister has a problem here?

    • Vomit comet as Maxie said was picong among his peeps. As it relate to the bottom comment it was deliberately graphic to show how dotish men are.

    • All those things were said to the media. God forbid he had to tell us about a rape then. And why would he want Sharon’s panties to be on the national airwaves… Well, I don’t know what else to say.

    • EXACTLY Joann Charles. What was “wrong” with the bottom comment? because it was Rowley said it? hat he said was that MEN ALWAYS say that “I en want no finger up in my bottom”. But despite SO MANY people giving him credit for bringing this awareness to the public, which (according to the news reports), many men visited the doctors around that time to check deh prostrate. But SOMEBODY have to find SOMETHING negative to ascribe to him. But it could’ve been easily predicted that this man will NEVER have it easy as a PM, nor his party. Meanwhile, Kamla get away with all sort of dotishness. Much ado out of nothing. Thank God these media houses who’re trying to destroy him, were not able to manipulate the minds of the electorate as they were able to do, to help “KAMLAMANIA” into reality in 2010. But it was the social media where most of what was being “hidden” by the regular media, that was able to expose these vampires of the past 5 yrs.

    • Kamla certainly got away with nothing in Wired868. And we don’t plan to get into the business of giving leaders an easy ride.

  34. Politicians like they forget who put them there…come election time again they come begging…

  35. Double standards one idiot said elsewhere to a comment if PP Instituted online tax alyuh wudda march.The Idiot’s defense? Well PP say axe the tax.so they can’t impose any.Not making this shit up

  36. He had called children hooligans. The min of health Steups. The minister of energy breakaway speaking with constituents. His bouffing of keejan Haynes and now this.

  37. The problem as I pointed out is not just this speech or unfortunate words but a building narrative that does not augur well for any of us

  38. It is sad and indeed ironic that those who have been accusing taxpayers of living off the fat of the land, are the biggest parasites of the offices which they occupy; doing all this while enjoying exclusive tax breaks.

  39. He has been in politics a long time .. paid by the public purse. That is dependency. To serve with pay.

  40. The main goal of a Trini politician is to get rich. TALK DONE.

  41. We are witnessing an arrogancy far greater than the last three prime ministers! Many a mighty have been trodden on! Who was the last genuine humble leader of recent times? It seems as soon as they get in power, humility takes a back burner. God is watching and the day of reckoning will come!