AT least one of the smaller political parties may not contest the local government elections but instead opt to contest next year’s general election.
That was the word from National Solidarity Assembly political leader Nirvan Maharaj, in a telephone interview on Monday, said this is because of the limited amount of funding available to the party.
“We are a small party. We do not have the financial backing as the larger parties would, even though I have a number of persons interested in contesting the local government elections – two in Couva/Tabaquite (Talparo Regional Corporation), five in Toco/ Sangre Grande.
But because of the resources, I have to operate within the boundaries of those resources.”He said the party would meet sometime in the week to determine whether it would participate in the local government elections or continue its education campaign in preparation for the general election.
“Some of my activists are thinking that we should contest the general (election) in one or two constituencies in the east, but I am not too sure what we are doing until we have that meeting.”Asked why the eastern section of Trinidad, he said at least one marginal constituency, Toco/ Sangre Grande, could hold the key to the 2020 election.
“One of those constituencies could determine the government.
So instead of fighting in constituencies where the outcome is almost certain, we would choose one where the NSA is strong.”Maharaj, who also heads the All Trinidad General Workers Trade Union, described the 2019/2020 budget as a “travesty of colossal proportions.”
He said the Ministry of Agriculture’s budgetary allocation of just over $700 million would be significantly reduced after salaries and recurrent expenditure are taken out, leaving very little for research and development projects.
“The Estate Management and Business Development contractors alone are owed perhaps $2-3 billion, which means a lot of the sites for the ex-Caroni workers are not being developed and will not be given out.”
Maharaj said the proposed tax incentives for registered farmers would not have a significant impact on the farming community, as over 80 per cent are not registered farmers.“Eighty per cent of the farmers are on tenanted land or squatting land, and they don’t have security of tenure in order to register as a farmer.”
“A budget is not cast in stone and hope the Ministry of Finance redresses the allocation to the agricultural sector.”