THE EDITOR: The independent, intelligent observer must be extremely confused after listening to the debate and subsequent commentary on the Government’s mid-year review.
The two major political parties seemed to be arguing about the availability of gas and its effect on the budget. They seemed oblivious to the fact that the Government is not responsible for ensuring there is an adequate supply of gas in our fields.
Moreover, it seems lost on everyone that TT does not own exploration machinery, ships or the technology to impact the access to oil or natural gas. Our nation’s major revenue earner is almost totally in the hands of foreign businesses whose primary obligation is to their shareholders.
The argument should have been about the use of the limited and declining access to hard currency and plans to deal with the inevitable adjustment necessary for economic sustenance.
One can conclude that the message coming from the Government and Opposition is to hope for more gas and oil and continue along a path of spending that depends on foreign income for sustainability.
Instead of encouraging farmers to produce food through agricultural incentives, a move that would reduce the need for imported food and consequent dependence on foreign money, a government minister was praising the Water and Sewage Authority for seizing the pumps from farmers seeking to water their crops with river water.
Citizens are required to pay their WASA bills for water they are not using or receiving but that seems OK to the Government. WASA seems unable to repair the roadway that it damages daily and boasts of being unable to fix hundreds of leaks throughout the country.
It cannot provide a reliable supply of water to most of the nation but seems to claim a moral authority, cloaked with the law, to seize farmers’ pumps for accessing water that if not accessed will simply flow into the sea. That sort of action seems to make sense to some people.
WASA is reportedly paying over $700 million annually for desalinated water alone. That is over $3 billion in a five-year term. The Minister of Public Utilities indicated in the mid-year debate that it would take $1 billion to replace the ageing infrastructure of WASA and instal meters to homes.
Certainly, it would make sense to construct new dams in central and south Trinidad, areas that suffer from flooding each rainy season and eventually stop paying for desalinated water. The savings can then be used to fix WASA’s infrastructure.
Desalinated water could be sold to industry but that would have to be a business decision taken by the supplier. Citizens should not have to pay for the sustenance of private companies to supply water that is available for free from nature.
The two major political parties seem clueless in finding solutions to the needs of our nation or to provide hope to the population. They seem to find innovative ways to spend hard currency on projects that do little to generate new income.
The alleged wastage of revenue by the last administration is well ventilated by the Government and others. There are reports of millions paid for electronic passport reading machines at the airport that do nothing to move passengers faster through immigration and customs.
There are no agricultural incentives and investments in food production and processing, no policy to make tourism a major contributor to the economy and no investment in infrastructure that will encourage foreign investment.
The two parties did what they do best – blame each other and hope for victory at another general election.
political leader, DPTT