THE EDITOR: On the current burning issue of the Budget, I wanted to add my two cents worth. I am a retired Internal Auditor and worked at one of the major financial institutions for over 40 years, the last 20 plus year period of which was in the Internal Audit Department. Based on my experience, a budget is made up of logical assumptions of proposed income and expenditure. As an auditor, I noticed that the budget detailed a number of proposed methods which are intended to increase the revenue income, which may or may not be realised, and a similar detailed methodology was not applied to expenditure. That being so is not as essential as one may think. The goal should be to make your current expenditure more productive and contributing to increasing revenue. Yes, the Government can’t go cutting cost willy nilly and people are losing their jobs. The Government has to implement inventive ways to increase production in the public service (one of the main expenses) in areas of diversification which can increase revenue and reduce expenditure in the food import bill (another major expense). This is not as easy as it sounds.
I will like to give an example, which I believe can be easily implemented without any significant infrastructure expenditure. TT can be basically divided into ten counties / cities which we all know. In each county, there are CEPEP and URP workers who are paid by Government and estates which have become overgrown with razor grass and look like forests. This has happened as a result of the instituting of these two programmes. There was an exodus of employment from the estates to both. Now, while I agree that “massa day done”, we have become a nation which imports most of its food due to previous oil wealth. The time has come to return to the estates which provide basic food requirements and can provide export income.
The lack of innovative ways to diversify the economy of my country, by successive governments, is amazing and I now believe the governments of TT (past and present) try to maintain a dependency syndrome of the lower and middle income population. If we continue to tax the working class into poverty there will be civil unrest when the population cannot take it anymore.
Ivan Grimes, Diego Martin