Any ‘Hoops’ tax rebates?
Thursday, July 12 2012
AS the global economic downturn continues to negatively affect not merely the size of international markets but, specifically, Trinidad and Tobago’s (TT) market share, the People’s Partnership Government should be refashioning both an effective investment policy and an educational planning policy geared to increasing the country’s marketable skills. Instead, it offers Hoops of Life as a major Government input into the attracting of investments.
While it is in the long-term interests of TT, indeed of any country, to improve the quality of life of its citizens, Hoops of Life as a tactic to achieve this is unamusingly absurd. This, even as a short-term strategy. It has long been accepted internationally that there are two categories of investment, one in equipment and the other in trained personnel.
The second can be achieved through skills training programmes , the upgrading of efficiency of our education system from primary through secondary to tertiary and the placing of emphasis on specialist training in specific and needed fields. While Shaquille O’Neal, the former United States basketball star who was brought down to start as well as give a fillip to the Hoops of Life programme, has publicly demonstrated that he can easily lift the Prime Minister, Kamla Persad-Bissessar, up in the air to ‘dunk’ a ball, not even Shaq can lift the TT economy out of the state in which it is in and place it on a higher plane.
Instead, the act itself, not unlike the Hoops for Life programme was two-dimensional. Basketball is a sport, a morale booster, but at present TT, not unlike other nations hard hit by the current international financial crisis, needs an economic lift-off, not “lift up”. Incidentally, the authoritative Concise Oxford English Dictionary describes sport, and this includes basketball, as “an activity involving physical exertion and skills in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment”.
While the use of the definition is not meant as a dismissal of basketball, the only major sport which had its origin in the US, nevertheless the time, money and effort spent on starting of and following through with Hoops of Life, whether the funding came from the public or private sector, could have been better utilised in skills training programmes for youths residing in targeted areas.
As an aside, was protocol followed when Shaquille O’Neal lifted up the Prime Minister to “dunk a ball”? Were the Prime Minister’s security detail apprised of it in advance? Is there a precedent for this or was one established that day? We spoke earlier of training in the context of an education policyposition geared to expanding TT’s marketable skills.
We should like to point out, however, if not to add that this training should not be confined to the classroom, but should also embrace on the job training. In addition, we wish to ask that if as has been put forward, officially, that the expenses for the visit of Shaq and the Hoops of Life activities associated with it, were funded by the private sector, were there any tax rebates offered to any of the private sector sponsors and were these rebates equal to the amount of the sums expended?
For, clearly, if this was so then in reality it would be as though the initial funding was tacitly wholly public sector! This, in turn, would be an officially approved tacit loss of potential Government revenue. Should this have been so then has this been standard practice by the Government? To what extent has this been practised within recent years?